Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The National Mission for Female Literacy, a renewed effort to make 70 million people — 60 million of them women — functionally literate by 2012 and plug the gender gap that has persisted despite the two-decade-old literacy drive in mission mode, was launched here on Tuesday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to mark the International Literacy Day.

Within minutes of Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal putting a billion dollar bill on the recast National Literacy Mission (NLM), the Prime Minister assured the nation that resources would not be a constraint in this endeavour. According to him, infrastructure development in the economic sector and female literacy in the social sector were the two critical factors that impede India’s steady climb to a higher and sustainable level of growth.

Stating that persistent efforts of the government had made elementary education accessible to all children, increased enrolment and reduced drop-outs — thereby checking further accretion to the population of illiterates — the Prime Minister stressed the need to renew the efforts of the 1980s and 1990s to address illiteracy among adults.

Further, Dr. Singh voiced the hope that the Saakshar Bharat Mission — as the National Mission for Female Literacy has been christened — would fully involve the community in its implementation and utilise the “potential and promise” of panchayati raj institutions and women’s Self-Help Groups.

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