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Reading the Word and the World-Literacy in the times of Globalization

Literacy stands second in the phase of communication and reciprocation of thoughts and information after the abilities of listening and speaking. It holds the key aspect to retrieve the knowledge gained from various sources for life long.
The higher illiteracy rates amongst the third world countries have always relegated them when compared with the developed ones. The illiteracy rates amongst these countries are preponderantly as of literacy.
Illiteracy not only shatters the economic growth of the country but it also constitutes a profound injustice amongst its nationals. The illiterates are not only incapable to make self decisions to get justice for themselves or to procure benefits but even show their inability to take part in any development process. Thus illiteracy overall threatens the very fabric of the democracy.
The world over illiteracy rates if not been able to put a curb on will further exacerbate already feeble third world countries. In today’s world, literacy has become a meaningful concept that is being viewed as a set of practices that functions in either empowerment or disempowerment of the nation and its nationals. In literal sense, literacy is being analyzed in sense where it serves to reproduce existing social formations or serves as a set of cultural practices that promotes democratic and emancipatory change amongst the peoples.
Literacy can’t be dwindled just to the extent of the art of reading the letters and words and to write them back. We need to go beyond this conceived notion of literacy and initiate a different vision of literacy being as the medium of learning and prosperity to the world.
If seen even historically, human beings first brought innovations in the world, secondly gained the education and lately wrote the word. The skill of reading the word and learning how to write the read word so that it can be read later is co-related to the skill of reading the world and the transformation of the world by touching the heights of globalization to regain the lost spiritual and technological aspects along with proper modernization as well.
From the origin of mankind to the late 1800s, an educational institution was the only source of information and attending them was the only way to acquire information. With time everything got changed, today we are surviving in a well knit web of information society with hundreds and thousands of sources of information. In present world the word “Yesterday” is history and it may not have any importance today. skills and technologies learnt today will soon become obsolete and would be mastered by new ones. For this reason, knowing how to learn, search for and procure information is more valuable than being a crammer of facts.
According to a recent report declared by UN 90% of the Indian graduates are not proficient and therefore are unfit for the high skilled job market. Today, employer wants an educational system which is exactly fine tuned according to the professional job market so that they don’t have to waste their money and time on inducing training sessions for their employees. The resultant factor is that the schools are now cuddling up to do business instead of providing the utmost education to the student where the student can land up on a platform of vantage. Education has now become a commercial commodity.
Yet another tangible declaration by UNESCO has brought a hall of shame instead of fame for we Indians, according to the report India has slipped down the education ladder, the drop out rates of the school going children in India is increasing terrifically. The children are dropping schools even before procuring the elementary education. The maximum drop outs are the girl students. It’s a matter of great concern for us. When our government has sufficient plans, infrastructure for the implementation of education then why at all are we facing the maximum number of drop outs.
What makes this bitter fact substantially true in not that India is lagging behind in educational system. The fact is that we are not able to produce teachers in sufficient numbers who can hold the students interest in studies and inspire them rather than telling them the lessons, because they themselves are the hapless products of the same cramming system. It would be worth here to borrow the phrase coined by William Arthur Ward that, “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates and the great teacher inspires”. The teacher teaches in the way that students instead of listening just hear the teacher. The text books of the students are in shabby conditions rather than being presented in a titivated form, which doesn’t catches the interest of the student at a glance. The learning environment is not congenial for the students.
Our education system emphasizes on data and not information. We reward reproduction, not creativity in the classrooms. We don’t encourage curiosities, independent thinking, experiments and digression. How can we expect innovations, original contributions in the numbers that we are capable of.
In an interesting experimental step, that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) mandated in its affiliated schools that every single girl child (a girl with no siblings) must get free education, vanished immediately after being declared because this step was being implemented without giving any compensation to those schools who would in turn bear a great financial loss because of this. Such school would have skewed their admission policies so that they can avoid taking the very students who will cause this loss. Moreover the orthodox parents just have the vision of making their girl child just able to read and write rather than making her self dependent through education. For such parents women like Kalpana Chawala, Sunita Williams or Kiran Bedi have to do nothing in their life.
According to a statement published in ‘The Australian Business’ (a leading newspaper of Australia), “Rich countries are largely rich because of the skills of their populations and the quality of the institutions supporting economic activity”. The US is considered a pioneer when it comes to inducing education and generation of employment.
A study if conducted on the educational system of India would disentangle the riddle related to the rise in number of expatriates students who just not only find the foreign educational degrees far better than the ones being awarded by our own country but also find the degrees awarded by the foreign Universities most rewarding in terms of earnings. An Indian University originated MBA candidate would fetch a salary in five figures whereas the same candidate fetches a salary in six figures after acquiring the same MBA Degree from a foreign University.
“A Rose by another name would smell as sweet”, so why this much difference between the Degrees of our Universities and the Degrees of the Universities abroad? Where’s exactly the fault lying, is it in the Degree being awarded by our Universities or in the capabilities of our own students? Why our own manpower is interested in going abroad and settling there only for the rest of the life?
One of the major objectives of education is to provide worthy jobs for the aspirants. At present school education starts and develops at two different platforms and the matching of the duo at the admission stage of the second is affected adversely. Most of the students not finding themselves fit for technical education remain unemployed and rush out to other countries in search of jobs, mostly menial which they would not prefer doing in their own country. This way we are bearing a great loss of our own manpower by lending it to other countries for their progress. Initially these expatriates develop a fool’s paradise. The working environment of these expatriates is quite pitiable and their condition lately deteriorates. If it’s the government alone to be blamed behind the faulty educational system then it would be wrong to do so, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”, Government is doing it’s best in laying down the foundations for an apex educational system for all but the onus also lies on the shoulders of the parents, teachers and the students as well to apprehend the role of literacy in everyone‘s life. We are now coming across with many Indians who are giving up their promising careers and stratospheric salaries abroad to come back to their native country, not to be a part of the booming India, but to make Swades a better place to live in for the rest of the Indians. They are coming back to provide education even to the slum children so that they may become self dependent when grown up. It’s the time for the teachers to shake a leg, they should forget working in plushy environments and should be ready to move on to the muddy environment of villages too to deliver their best to all.
India has the most excellent legacy of pedagogy in the Gurukul System. We have known about methods of education long before the world even thought of about it. We only need to dig this up and reinvent it by furbishing the mud ridden educational system and titivating it with modern technological aspects. An eye opening fact that can’t be denied and is being accepted world wide is that India is capable of producing a large numbers of renowned engineers, scientists, mathematicians.
The thing to be done is that the knowledge of a school/college student should be measured by their ability to procure information and turn it into useful knowledge rather than testifying their ability to cram up the things.
What is not being understood is that a low scoring student viz. Bill Gates are technicians who continue to keep up their nation a leader of technology, that is because the same students who show limited interest in learning academics, demonstrates great skills and confidence in making innovations. Certain other eminent people like Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison are amongst a few names that found the class room environment conflictive but still made their path to success. Many students accept and believe their educators opinion regarding them as failures but others find alternative educational opportunities and make a bee line to find success.
The industrial age has gone and we are entering the technological era. Today’s narrow profit margins and fast changing technologies are forcing individuals and companies to replace the status quo with continuous change.
Business must implement a leadership style that inspires a love-to-learn and build environment where changes motivates people, because continuous change means efficiency during the current century.
Where skill becomes obsolete in a few months or years, then the newer methods of learning are required. One can’t keep going back to the classrooms every time to fetch knowledge to replace his current skills with the newer ones. We are entering the age where we need continuous education. Continuous education requires the ability to learn without dependency on instructors. All this is to be replaced by self education techniques.
Teachers must be tested regularly and trained continuously with modern techniques of pedagogy so that they keep their skills and knowledge updated and up to scratch. The teachers should meet the benchmarks of teaching.
Motivation is education. Education without motivation kills ambition, the primary ingredient for a productive lifestyle. When a person discovers their natural talent, they are like a fast moving freight train; there is no stopping for them. They will find a way to develop their talent, with or without support from society.
If the pace of national development is to be accelerated, there is need for a well-defined, bold and imaginative educational policy and for determined and vigorous action to vitalize, improve and expand education.
There can be no hope of making the country self-sufficient in food unless the farmer himself is moved out of his age-long conservatism through a science-based education, becomes interested in experimentation, and is ready to adopt techniques that increase yields. In an age of scientific miracles, every field of human endeavour looks to science for the silver bullet to pierce the heart of a problem but denies the fact that the panacea of every problem is definitely in literacy. How many dairy farmers are aware of the fact that cow’s urine can also be an assured source of income for them? Mil from cows can only be procured during their lactation period of 250-300 days, whereas the farmers cans sell the cows urine to persons engaged in the sale and manufacture of ayurvedic medicines?
Indian farmers who have lost their moorings here script success story abroad. The only conclusion can be our faulty planning which needs evolutionary and revolutionary refurbishing. Farmers need to be motivated to adopt vocations like trading, retailing, financing and cottage industries so that they need not to get scared of natural convulsions, famines and pestilence. The farmers should not only know the ropes of farming but should also be literate. The literate farmers reaps the benefits of scientific farming and direct market opportunities, they also suppress the illiterate farmers shattering the agricultural feed of the entire nation with their monopoly. The same is true for industry. The skilled manpower needed for the relevant research and its systematic application to agriculture, industry and other sectors of life can only come from a development of scientific and technological education. Similarly, economic growth is not merely a matter of physical resources or of training skilled workers; it needs the education of the whole population in new ways of life, thought and work.
We should take education as an instrument of Change. If this 'change, on a grand scale' is to be achieved without violent revolution (and even for that it would be necessary) there is one instrument, and one instrument only, that can be used i.e. Education. Other agencies may help, and can indeed sometimes have a more apparent impact. But the national system of education is the only instrument that can reach all the people. It is not, however, a magic wand to wave wishes into existence. It is a difficult instrument, whose effective use requires strength of will, dedicated work and sacrifice. But it is a sure and tried instrument, which has served other countries well in their struggle for development. It can, given the will and the skill, do so for India.
Every student has a natural burning ambition to learn, excel and be somebody. If they are not achieving this goal in the current environment of studies, they need opportunity in a different environment.
For intellectual student, the education inspires a vision, helps them discover their natural talent, opportunity to develop it and helps them to fish out their first job thereby helping them to fulfil their ambitions. Where as, for non-intellectual students the education system labels them as complete failures because they can’t master academics like the intellectuals can. These non-intellectual students are looked up as disdains. Accepting themselves as complete failures they simply give up and choose the path of destruction of their own life and career, get habituated of taking drugs or just end up by becoming a delinquent.
A one education system for all is not feasible. These failure students need alternatives, becoming involved with hand on projects, where academics is a by product.
Students who educate themselves will discover their natural hidden talent without external help and find their own opportunity, usually in the blue-collar world, thereby fulfilling their desires to excel.
We must have a dream and an ambition that motivates us. No one has ever achieved anything without a dream attached to a burning desire. In school we learn how to memorize, and be taught. Learning the skills and knowledge of reducing our dependency on others is provided by attaining educational degrees. We must learn from failures and learn how to bounce back from failures. No one ever succeeded without failure.
The world is now at the beginning of the second scientific industrial revolution of automation and cybernetics, which is likely to be in full swing before the close of the century. It is difficult to visualize the changes it will make in man's life. One thing, however, is certain: unless proper steps are taken right from now, the gap between us and the industrialized countries following this second revolution may become too wide to be bridged. Of course the power of new information technology to bring the world closer and make it more interconnected and interdependent is unquestionable. But the history of technology reveals that unless otherwise managed through public policy, technological innovations tend to accentuate inequalities by being inaccessible to the under-privileged, at least in the initial stages.
Talking on the political aspects of our country, it would not be wrong to say that just one educated generation can uplift the moral, ethical and value levels at which national leadership operates. It was a laudable idea to make a world renowned scientist Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Azad as the President of India but a single noble laureate like him won’t be able to bring much change in the entire political avenues of the country. With the change in pace, even the employers have been fixing some educational standards for providing employment whereas politics remains the area which has not shown much change since ages. We still are having illiterates as politicians for e.g. Panchayat Pradhans in villages etc. who are in turn governing us with a narrow vision. How can an illiterate person, who is not even aware of his own rights can prove a good stead for the rights of the entire village or the entire nation? An illiterate politician can only beguile the public by bragging about being a jingoist and the measures being taken by him for the welfare of the public, they also foster vulgar wealth alongside abject poverty that can, in turn, lead to violence and anarchy-like conditions, where as a well educated one will do something for the nation with his wider vision of philanthropy. We need the entire political system to be replaced with educationists or politicians who are educated and have a broader vision for exalting the nation. What’s the difference between the era where we Indians were being ruled by the British and the current situation where we are being governed by illiterate politicians, it’s just like the situation ‘between the devil and the deep Blue Sea’.
Here comes the imperative need of adult literacy, the illiterate adult faces more exploitation and is been seen with a view of more disdain than their younger counterparts. A literate adult generation will always behave as catalyst for inspiring their upcoming generations with their broader vision of thoughts and experience whereas an illiterate adult generation will not be able to understand the need of expansion of literacy in today’s world. The illiterate adult generation who themselves are reluctant to get literate will never be able to quench the thirst for information which their younger ones are cultivating in their minds.
Globalization is the integration of fragmented economic, political, and cultural systems across the globe. According to the globalization concept, each entity is a stakeholder. The forces of globalization have engulfed mostly every country of the present world. In this race of globalization literacy plays a key role. Globalization was once associated with the flow of goods but now it’s associated with the flow of ideas and flow of capabilities as well. With rapid communication technologies like internet, an important new notion originating anywhere in the world can be known and understood anywhere in the world very quickly. The generated ideas must be transformed into a product or a process or both for everyone to get benefited.
The spread of literacy and education has been a major consequence of globalization. Literacy and education has spread from high to middle and low income countries. The increase in people’s capabilities and skills due to literacy has been enormous. A literate generation is more specific and cautious towards being civilized and need of hygienic environment and proper sanitation for a healthier and longer survival. Eradication of deadly diseases like chickenpox and measles was also possible cause of literacy. Literacy also plays a key role in overcoming the social evil practices like sati being accepted and spread by the illiterate and orthodox people in the society.
Literacy has also played a leading role in the empowerment of the women section. Literate women are coming forward to share equal or even leading role in earning livelihood like their men are doing. They have also laudably proved that apart from playing alone the domain role of taking care of their child at home they are also having the best feature of being earning hands. The literate women section have also proven false the once used to be said phrase with assert, “Frailty, thy name is woman”. Today the literate women section is empowered with rights which not only protects her from being exploited but also gives her equal opportunities in the competition against men. Literacy has also encouraged women to actively take participate in politics, hence making her more aware of her rights and changing the opinion of the men dominated politics, where the women were just treated as weaker section and where the gender discrimination always existed. Today, the girl has right to choose her spouse instead of getting foisted.
Consumer who was once treated as source of earning has now become the most respectful class. The consumer is now literate and is aware of the consumer right which prevents him from getting deceived by the business class and hence a fair deal is struck between the consumer and the producer.
When comes the question of getting tied in social bonds, we not only accept each others culture, tradition and the vernacular knowledge but everything as whole. We all do not come with such innate and unique capacity of acceptance, it’s literacy which makes us so civilized and adopt a broader vision to accept this and form a human relation which leads to the construction of a healthy society and in turn a healthier nation as well. It’s literacy again which has abolished the practices of apartheid and helped the untouchables to emerge from the disdained section.
Globalization refers to the phenomenon of world wide homogeneity of economy, politics, technology, trade and culture. The fast pace of globalization affects employment hence requisition for preparation of work is acquiring priority. The potent forces of globalization have urged the need of appreciation of workplace literacy. To cater for the rapidly changing demand in the workplace the production systems are also changing themselves significantly. Multi-skills and job rotations are becoming the keywords to avoid the world market from getting paralysed. Workers with adequate literacy knowledge are an asset to an enterprise. Literacy helps to cope up with the international competitiveness in which the higher productivity of both men and machine is required.
Computer literacy and internet has also played its significant role in globalization. Where the internet has not only tied up the entire world in a single net but has also been the leading and fastest source of information and reciprocation of thoughts, trade and technology.
It may be concluded that literacy is the hallmark of progress. It develops the spirit of team-work, interpersonal relations and communication skills amongst everyone. It’s the torque which can determine the overall strength of the nation. A nation whose every citizen is literate has the vision to read the world the best in its form.


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Devendra Lingwal

Devendra Lingwal

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A result oriented writer with a flair to write for books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and web publications for technical, business, and general audiences. Able to conceive, design, plan, and manage all phases of editorial projects; not afraid to dig in and create any single editorial element or group of elements. That's me:

As a Citizen Journalist have won awards for 4 of my articles, ‘Time to have a re-look at blacklisted sikhs’, ‘Killing for honour kills human honour’, ‘Gandhi, youth and globalisation’ and ‘Growing pains of the youth’ as the 'best articles'.


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