Adult education is the most important programme of social welfare in India. Over eighty percent of our men and women are illiterate. They have to be made literate as quickly as possible; otherwise democracy in India cannot work. They do not understand even the mechanism of voting. Most of our people just cannot afford education. They have to earn their living every day of their life. They are daily wage earners. They can pick up adult education through night-time classes, organized by the social welfare organizations in many parts of India.
A country cannot make progress if the majority of its people are uneducated. There are more than fifty crores people who are illiterate in India.
On October 2, 1978 a nationwide National Adult Education Programme (NAEP) was launched on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. That programme was then continued by the Indira Government. Adult Education is a non-political and non-controversial subject. Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was even more interested in the propagation of Adult Education than Prime Minister, Shri Morarji Desai who launched the programme in 1978. Adult Education centres have been opened in a very large number of districts of India.
Adult Education Scheme combines learning with earning activities of the illiterate people. The timings of teaching are so arranged that these do not conflict with the working hours. The 1978 programme added another aim, a cent percent literacy in five years but that was a distant dream. It could never be realized. As the population is going up; so is the illiteracy. Consequently, there are more illiterates today than those were at the time of independence in 1947.
Adult Education produces good workers in offices and factories. It helps them continue their self education. It makes a good citizen of India. Its aim is to bring about general awakening and political consciousness in the country. Adult Education is very helpful in the standard of living of the farm and factory workers. It is a mean for the poor people and the weaker sections of the society.
The revolutionary Adult Education Programme launched by the Janata Government came to nothing, because most of the money had been mis-spent and gone into greedy hands. In the past few years Adult Education Programme was effectively executed and the literacy of the nation increased to a great extent.
Adult Education is strictly an official enterprise. The Government offers necessary help to all social organizations willing to undertake the work of making the illiterate literate so that they can read and write.