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Role of universities in boosting the literacy rate of the country

The role of higher education in sustainable economic and social development is increasing year after year and will continue to do so for decades to come. Here’s everything you need to know from the expert.

New Delhi,UPDATED: 26 Jan. 2023 10:07 AM IST

Role of universities in boosting the country's literacy rate

Role of universities in boosting the country’s literacy rate

By India Today Web Desk: Education plays a key role in paving the way to a quality life. Data-based findings have shown an inverse relationship between literacy rates and poverty rates. In the period from 1991 to 2023, the literacy rate increased by 16% from 61.1% to 77%. While some may doubt that there has been any clear progress, it is important to note that looking at this 20-year period, the education sector in India has experienced a massive contraction in budgets.

The new education policy was not introduced until October 2022, and with its cutting-edge initiatives to encourage skills-based education and curriculum flexibility, it would now usher in a new era of education development in the country. Here’s everything you need to know from the expert Sunil Rai, Chancellor, UPES.



Universities have traditionally focused on access for economically weaker sections (EWS), disadvantaged groups (DG) and children with special needs (CWSN) due to the mandatory reservation of 25% of seats under the Right to Education Act (RTE) .

  • However, this focus is no longer limited to access and has now shifted to providing quality education and holistic development for these students.
  • In addition, universities are now taking proactive steps to create an inclusive learning environment and provide access to resources and support to those from the EWS, DG and CWSN categories.
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Despite the above provisions, a large portion of the population remains untapped due to their age, a recent survey conducted by ORF (Observer Research Foundation) found that India is home to the largest population of illiterate adults in the world, with 287 million people. represent 37% of the global total. This is largely due to various geographical, technological and infrastructural constraints that have made access to education difficult for many.

However, both private and government institutions are now leveraging digital learning solutions and smart education to reach these audiences through support programs, certificate courses, and more. These measures allow us to bridge the gap and expand educational opportunities to those who were previously excluded.


The pandemic forced the need for immediate integration of technology across industries. Changes that were a ‘need of the hour’ now appear to be the way of the future, particularly in the education sector. Innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) have played a major role in improving curricula, making learning more immersive and interactive.

  • The digital revolution has led to a paradigm shift in the way students learn. Through internet learning we have been able to reach a wider section of society, giving them the opportunity to better understand the subject and be better prepared for the challenges of the future
  • In addition, upskilling and reskilling have been pioneering, enabling people to make a fresh start using flexible vocational training offered by universities
  • The penetration of digitally-enabled platforms (which were previously lacking) has been a game-changer for the education space and a huge step towards strengthening one of the major growth pillars of our economy. We expect to have at least one major multidisciplinary higher education institution (HEI) in or near each district by 2030, making quality education more accessible, accessible and convenient

This will significantly increase India’s literacy rate and promote greater economic development. Colleges also support and implement initiatives to reach wider audiences through open distance learning, short courses, online learning, and other creative methods. With the implementation, India is poised to take a major leap forward in literacy and economic growth. However, it is important not to lose sight of the further developments in the sector that are needed to complement the positive changes already observed.



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