In a unique move of sending a strong message to people to improve the literacy rate in the district, Nalgonda Collector T. Chiranjeevulu accepted only slates and slate pencils as gifts from the visitors who greeted him on the occasion of New Year at his camp office here on Wednesday.

A couple of days ago, the Collector made urged to the people who were planning to visit him on the New Year to present him only slates and pencils instead of bouquets and sweet boxes, saying that to distribute the ‘gifts’ to the identified illiterates in the district.

As part of the Collector’s pet project ‘Mana Kosam Manam’ that aimed at improving eight social indicators in the district, the administration has identified 2 lakh illiterates.

So far, they have enrolled 1.1 lakh illiterates in adult education centres.

Though the district administration has distributed notes and pens to these adult illiterates, the latter were asking for slates and slate pencils saying that it would be more comf-ortable for them to write with pencils on slate than using pen and paper.

“It motivated me for such a move,” the Collector said.

He was overwhelmed with the response from the visitors as he received the slates and pencils in thousands till Wednesday afternoon and the flow continued for the day.

The Collector said that the district was lagging behind in literacy rate when compared to the national and state average.

At present, the literacy ratio of the district stands at 65 per cent against the State and nation's average of 67.77 per cent and 74.04 per cent respectively.

Apart from aiming to improve other social indic-ators, he said they had aimed to improve literacy rate in 100 days time.

“Flowers and bouquets decay in a day or two, but the slates presented by the visitors will serve a bigger purpose,” he observed.

The Collector further said that they would launch a drive to admit over 3,000 out-of-school children in residential schools by January 15.