Chennai: HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar today said though the number of school drop outs has been 'shrinking' over the years it was still in lakhs and all have to be brought into the school system.
"The literacy level was around 17 per cent at the time of independence, but today it has increased to more than 75 per cent. It is not small number. Today, there are 98 per cent enrollment of all students in age group of 8 to 16", he said inaugurating the South Asia Literacy Summit -- TEACH -- organised by Rotary International here.
Stating that it was a "remarkable" achievement in increasing the literacy ratio, he said, "those who still remained out of schools, the number is shrinking every year, but it is still in lakhs. We have to bring everybody into the school system".
On the literacy campaign by Rotary Internationl, he said, "we must take people along with us and make it inclusive. Merely there are 27 crore people who are illiterate in India. If we take up Each One, Reach One and Teach One (campaign), we can bring in 100 per cent literacy".
"We have to create a confidence in a student that he can teach his parents or grand parents. And that is mission we can accomplish in next 3-5 years. So, let us all resolve, that in next five years we will accomplish 100 per cent literacy. it is possible. it is doable", he said.
He also said TEACH was an important programme. "It is a mission taken up by you (Rotary International) and will also become more resounding success like how we eradicated polio(from our country)."
Recalling a famous quote of economist Nani Palkiwala that "illiterate intelligence was more effective than educated incapcity" Javadekar said, "I will tell you a secret.
"Those who we call illiterates cast vote rightly and the percentage of invalid votes in a graduate election was more than the general election," he said referring his election from a Graduate Constituency to the Pune University Senate in the 1970s.
On the initiatives taken by Rotary International on e-learning, he said, online courses had more potential and private TV channels and DTH operators were running courses digitally. "People are paying and learning from it. E-learning is the order of the day. We must learn from it (that development)", he said.