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National Literacy Mission - A Game Changing All India Literacy Campaign

Last updated date: 23rd Apr 2024
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What is The National Literacy Mission?

The National Literacy Mission was established in the year 1988 and launched by the Government of India on May 5, 1988 with the goal of eradicating illiteracy from the country by catering to the section of the society that requires education the most and will benefit from it. Thus, the National Literacy Mission was established not with the only motive of making every individual of the country self reliant in the three R's - Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic but so by making them aware of the developmental issues that cause hurdles to the growth of the society. The target group for this mission was set between the age group of 15 to 35. This Mission worked under the administration of the National Literacy Mission Authority which was an independent wing of the Department of Education. 

Main Programmes Under The National Literacy Mission

The two flagship programmes of the National Literacy Mission (NLM) include:

  • Total Literacy Programmes and

  • Post Literacy Programme

It is through these programmes that the objectives and aims of the mission could be given shape. The Total Literacy Campaign was aimed at imparting basic literacy to all the adult non literates from the decided age range. While the later programme was initiated to reinforce the literacy skills of the neo literates. The other rung that was made part of the existing two part project included the Continuing Education Programme that was aimed at providing facilities like reading rooms, rural libraries for the neo literates and different other sections of the community. All these three campaigns together formed the Total Literacy Campaign Programmes. In addition to the bare minimum education that was being provided, focus was also given on vocation training to the neo literates and several other disadvantaged and underprivileged sections of the society with the support of Jan Shikshan Sansthans.

The National Literacy Mission (NLM) launched its first successful campaign in the Kottayam city in Kerala and then the Ernakulam district of Kerala. By the end of November 2002, 596 districts out of the total 600 districts in the nation had been covered by the National Literacy Mission (NLM) under the total literacy campaign. Out of this total literacy campaign, 191 districts were a part of the post literacy phase while 238 had already entered the continuing education phase.

Objectives Of The National Literacy Mission (NLM)

The entire National Literacy Mission was aimed to mainly ensure that each citizen of the country gets an equal opportunity of education and a chance to enhance their skill set by making the best use of education. The major National Literacy Mission objectives and aims are as follows:

  1. The aim was to undertake a  full scale literacy campaign which would be of a sustainable threshold level touching the minimum mark of 75% of the population by the year 2007. The mission seeked to fulfill this goal by imparting functional literacy to non-literates from the age of 15 to 35.

  2. The objective was also to make all of the citizens self-reliant but alongside identifying and getting aware of the underlying causes of deprivation of education and going forward towards the amelioration of the condition by making every citizen a part of the process of development by helping people make the most out of education.

  3. Helping with skill enhancement to improve the general well being and economic status of the people of the country.

  4. Helping the students imbibe values of national integration, women's equality, conservation of the environment, observance of the nuclear family norms and the like.

  5. Catalysing the reduction in gender gap in literacy by 10%.

  6. Helping with the reduction of gender, social, and regional disparities in the educational spheres.


Results of The National Literacy Mission

The National Literacy Mission (NLM) resulted in the following major outcomes: 

  • It has been able to cover 597 districts in the country under various literacy programmes. Out of this 174 districts are not in Post Literacy Programmes and 328 districts in the continuing education phase. 

  • All the Literacy Programmes sanctioned by the National Literacy Mission were estimated to cover approximately 150 million Neo literates out of which 125.6 Million people have already been made literate under the programmes of National Literacy Mission.

  • The existing gender disparity could be curtailed to a big extent as 60% of the learners during these literacy campaigns have been females while 40% of them were men. 

  • These literacy programmes also catered to the disadvantaged sections of the society as 23% learners were seen to belong to the Scheduled Castes while 12% belong to the Scheduled Tribes.

  • The cumulative number of literary volunteers who were mobilised since the launching of literary campaigns were estimated to be approximately 15 million.

  • With the rampant spread of this programme, the literacy rate of the country also increased from 52.21% in 1991 to 65.37% in 2001, registering one of the highest decadal growth in literacy.

Remaining Issues And How It Is Being Tackled

The National Literacy Mission has gained a lot of prominence and happens to be a huge step forward for the entire country. Yet, these two major issues have still remained. They are as follows:

  • Despite the significant results that these campaigns brought about, 34% of the non literates in the age group of 15 and above throughout the world belong specifically from India. 

  • Even though the gender, regional and social disparities have been getting lower, they have still been continuing with families and citizens focusing more on the education of Savarna class men.

To tackle these two crucial problems, the Government of India decided to go forward with an integrated approach to the literacy programmes rather than making it a step by step linear progression. With the integration of the Total Literacy Campaign with the Post Literacy Campaign under the One Literacy Project - the government wanted to implement the same approach throughout the country. This approach will be effective in tackling the existing illiteracy issue with a holistic approach. 


The National Literacy Mission has been a boon to the country as it has effectively been able to push forward education programmes in a country where there has been widespread illiteracy. This article has traced what is national literacy mission, the aims and objectives, and the results of the entire mission.

FAQs on National Literacy Mission - A Game Changing All India Literacy Campaign

1. Has the literacy campaigns under the National Literacy Mission received any recognition?

The starting of such a large-scale full fledged total literacy campaign by the National Literacy Mission had achieved widespread recognition. The UN agency called UNESCO conferred upon the National Literacy Mission the UNESCO Noma Literacy Prize in the Year of 1999 to show appreciation to how the enormous weightage of the programme have been implemented and executed properly. The National Literacy Mission had also received a lot of appreciation and praise from the jury for the production of the teaching and learning materials for all the students and for pushing forward the campaigns to bring about quality primary education for all the children right from the starting levels to ensure that the foundation of the children are set on correct lines.

2. What is the new name of the National Literacy Programme?

One of the new campaigns that have become popular and is said to be the new name of the National Literacy Programme of 1988 is the Saakshar Bharat Mission of India of 2009 that aims to nurture and promote adult learning and education reaching out to specially those who have not been able to undergo education and have completed their former years without it. This mainly focuses on vocational training, applied sciences, sports and enhancement in different kinds of other skills. Saakshar Bharat Mission is a centre sponsored nation-wide literacy campaign launched by the Indian Department for School Education and Literacy (DSEL) aimed at increasing women's literacy in India too. 

3. Who is the founder of the National Literacy Programme?

The National Literacy Programme was undertaken by the Government of India and was spearheaded by the Department of Education after it was approved by the Cabinet. Hence, the actual founder as well as the executioner of the National Literacy Programme of 1988 has been the Central Government of India. The Government of India soon also came out with newer education programmes backing the National Literacy Programme like the Shaakshar Bharat Mission and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.