"It is the foremost concern of our government to substantially improve literacy rates of women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities," the human resource development minister said at the International Literacy Day celebrations at Vigyan Bhawan here.

Highlighting the government's initiative in the area of adult literacy, the minister said "Saakshar Bharat" programme sought to promote adult education. Irani said, "It provides opportunities for learning basic literacy, equivalency with formal education system and continuing education."

She added, "The programme runs in 385 districts covering 1.54 lakh gram panchayats in 26 states and one union territory. Primers have been developed and printed in 13 languages and 26 dialects to impart literacy in local language."The minister said that literacy must be sensitive to local cultures.

Irani said, "It must be linked with opportunities with skill development and help augment employment. I will like to focus on converging literacy with development programmes."

She added, "We had introduced a system of assessment and certification of literacy skills of learners with the help of National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). More than 2.86 crore adults have been certified as literate across the country till March 2014 and more than 70 percent of them are women."

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