Kerala, which claimed to have achieved total literacy through a sustained campaign some years ago, is now drawing up a new plan to achieve that target.
When the total literacy proclamation was made, there was still a small number of illiterate persons in the State. In the absence of adequate measures to consolidate the gain, there was subsequently a setback.
The 2001 Census put literacy in India at 65.2%. That meant that 34.8%, which works out to about 350 million people, were illiterate at that time. That makes India the home of the largest number of illiterate people in the world.
In 2001, literacy in Kerala was 94.20% for males and 87.86% for females. There was a gap of four percentage points between urban female literacy (90.87%) and rural female literacy (86.79%).
The variation in female literacy within the State was significant. Kottayam district (94.45%) stood first, followed by Pathanamthitta (93.71%), Alappuzha (91.14%) and Ernakulam (90.96%). Palakkad came last (79.31%).
Female literacy among Dalits (65.03%) and Adivasis (43.53%) was considerably lower than among the rest of the population. Special literacy programmes are being implemented in the Palakkad, Wayanad and Idukki, which have large Adivasi populations.
Writing in the December 2007 issue of Bharanachakram, a magazine devoted to matters connected with administrative reform, Dr. N. Jayadevan, Director, State Literacy Mission Authority, says, “Literacy workers in Kerala must take up the major challenge of making the remaining illiterates also literate so that the State can achieve total literacy literally.”