T.N. School Education Department begins survey for adult literacy programme

Over 97,500 individuals — 18,464 men and 79,130 women — in the age group of 15 and above have been identified across T.N. for being trained for 6 months.

Updated - May 30, 2024 06:56 am IST

Published - May 21, 2024 12:41 am IST - Chennai

Women in Manikandam block attend the Adult Literacy Programme. Representative image. File

Women in Manikandam block attend the Adult Literacy Programme. Representative image. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

The School Education Department is undertaking a survey to identify people who are not literate under the New India Literary Programme (NILP) or Puthiya Bharatha Ezhutharivu Thittam 2022-2027 through the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Non-Formal and Adult Education. State School Education Department Secretary J. Kumaragurubaran stated that since the first week of May, so far, 97,594 individuals —18,464 male and 79,130 female— in the age group of 15 and above were identified across the State for being trained for six months by over 2 lakh Illam Thedi Kalvi and Nehru Yuva Kendra volunteers in 25,000 centres. The highest number of persons were in Salem district at 16,463.

Last year, more than 4.8 lakh individuals were trained under this initiative and, barring around 2,500, all others were given certificates from the Department for clearing an assessment test, he added.

Under Samagraha Shiksha, ₹9.5 crore is allocated for this - 60% of funds from the Centre and 40% from the State.

Last year, in Chennai, 15,090 had taken the course, according to data from the School Education Department. This year, so far, 2,581 were identified in Chennai. At present, there are 330 literacy centres run by the Greater Chennai Corporation for adults, all in slum areas. These are mostly primary schools.

History of adult literacy

According to Greater Chennai Corporation’s book ‘Caring For Chennai’, written by heritage and history expert V. Sriram, the introduction of reading rooms was in 1927. “School buildings were freely made available to private associations who wished to conduct night schools for the benefit of illiterate adults, classes and lectures for the more literate, and lectures on civic needs, health, and temperance,” the book says.

“By 1930, there were 54 night schools in the city. These were managed by private agencies with Corporation teachers being permitted to work as staff in these schools, on condition that the schools obtained recognition within one year from the date of grant... In 1942, it was decided to open 30 adult literacy centres for males in all 40 Divisions in the city with 47 instructors (Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu), chosen from among retired teachers. The scheme was formally inaugurated by the then Mayor V. Chakkarai Chettiar at the Corporation Boy’s School, Strahan’s Road, on January 19, 1942,” it reads.

“By the 1960s, it was felt that the night schools had served their purpose. A plan to revive them in the 1990s was later merged with the adult literacy centres,” the book mentions.

The Tamil Nadu government, in a document titled ‘Adult and Non-formal Education’, states that through special programmes— the Total literacy campaign and Post-literacy campaign— that have been implemented in Tamil Nadu since 1992, through the District Literacy Councils registered under the Societies Registration Act, headed by the Collector as Chairman, to give non-literates in the age group of 15-35 basic education as well as training to fill out forms, read boards, etc., for a year.

This then became the NILP programme of the School Education Department from the academic year 2021, according to an official in the School Education Department. 

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