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Kumar, Ajay (1998) Politics of mass literacy in India : A case study of two North Indian villages under the 'Total Literacy Campaign', 1988-95. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This project is a study of the politics of mass literacy in India. It sets the problem of literacy in the context of public discourses, institutional practices and formation of various identities related to educational and development goals in contemporary Indian society. The study is centered around specific case studies of two villages under the 'Total Literacy Campaign' (TLC) launched nationwide in May 1988 by the National Literacy Mission Authority (NLMA). Despite marginal improvement in literacy rates since independence, there has been a steady increase in the absolute number of total 'illiterates', which is bigger than the size of 'literates'. Also the gap between 'literates' and 'illiterates' has been ever- increasing. The government admits its failures towards mass education and hence now it has declared promotion of literacy as a national mission. To counter its past failures, it has launched a 'total campaign' approach in adult literacy programme along with 'Education For All' (EFA) goal in general towards elementary education. Thus this project is a study of the pedagogic principles, practice and public policy on promotion mass education and literacy in India. It seeks to study the cultural and linguistic bases of mass literacy and the democratic i.e. participatory and interactive/discursive methods of literacy promotion. The study is based on new socio-cultural approaches to language, discourse-learning, identity and culture (Introduction, Chapter 1). It is an interdisciplinary study in literacy practices (language and discourse learning) whose development is traced with colonial history of social, political and educational development in north India (Chapters 2&3). It traces these developments beginning with nationalist thinking on nation-building, mass literacy and education during the freedom movement before 1947 (Chapter 2), and the evolution of public policy goals on education and its culture after 1947 (Chapter 3). It looks into why highest 'illiteracy' exists in the Hindi- speaking states and how adequately our educational planners have addressed these complex problems. The policy principles and institutional practices in learning are further examined in case studies of two villages in Bihar and Haryana (Chapters 4&5). TLC's pedagogic principles, practices and relevance as seen and understood by learners are examined in order to establish the real contexts of a learning. This is also done through a concrete area of language and content analysis of the TLC reading materials, the way TLC Primers (texts) have been presented to the learners and the ways these texts are interacted with, by the adult learners (Chapter 6). We thus endeavour to establish the issue of literacy-leaming in terms of survival, cultural and identity needs of the learner. All these discussions are primarily based on adult learners' and concerned people's historical, social, and classroom experiences.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:00

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