Speaking on International Literacy Day, Mukherjee said there was need to bridge the existing gender disparity in literacy levels. "The time has come to put in renewed vigour and concerted efforts to improve our literacy rate. Our ultimate objective should be to bring the literacy rate not only at par with the world average, but with levels attained by the leading nations," he said.

He said it has been envisaged that by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan period, the country would achieve 80 percent literacy rate and also narrow the gender gap from nearly sixteen to ten percentage points. "The existing gender disparity in literacy levels has to be bridged by turning our attention to girl children and women," he said.

The President underlined the need to achieve widespread literacy through complementary efforts to alleviate poverty, mitigate inequity owing to gender and social category, and improved access to schooling. "We have to gear up the machinery at all levels -- national, state, district, block, and gram panchayat," he said.

Mukherjee called for involving all stake holders like government agencies, reputed organizations in the non-government and private sectors in pushing for improving the literacy rate. The President said several debilitating factors have hampered our progress in literacy, especially adult literacy.

"This had underscored the need to embark upon a tangible plan. Recognising this imperative, the government had launched the Saakshar Bharat programme on this very day, four years ago,” he said.

He said 70 million adults in the age group of 15 years and above was the primary target for imparting functional literacy under this programme. "I am told that more than 20 million learners have already been certified as literate. The success of the adult education programme will depend on how well it can adapt to emerging changes," he said.

According to the Census report of 2011, the literacy rate in India was 74.04 percent. While the female literacy rate was 65.46 percent, male literacy rate was over 80 percent.

(Agencies)

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