The National Literacy Mission Programme is an Indian programme which aims to make 80 million adults in the age group of 15 – 35 literate over an eighty year period. By “Literacy”, the NLM means not only learning how to read, write and count but also helping people become aware of why they are deprived and helping them move towards change. National Literacy Mission (NLM) was set up by the government of India on 5 May 1988 with an aim to eradicate illiteracy in the country by imparting functional literacy to non-literates.
Thus, National Literacy Mission was established not only to make everybody just self reliant in the three Rs — reading, writing and arithmetic — but also to make them aware of the development issues affecting the society. The target group of NLM is people between the age of 15 and 35. National Literate Mission works under the guidance of National Literacy Mission Authority, an independent wing of Ministry of Human Resources and Development. The National Literacy Mission has two flagship programmes- Total literacy programmes and Post literacy Programme through which it gives shape to its aims.
But with the revitalization of National Literacy Mission Programme on 30 September 1999, both the campaigns have come under one single project: ‘Literacy Campaigns an Operation Restoration’. The NLM initiated its first successful literacy campaign in Kottayam city of Kerala followed by Ernakulam district of the same state. Till November 2002, 596 districts out of the total 600 districts of the country had been covered up by the National Literacy Mission under the total literacy campaign programme. Out of which, 191 was in the post literacy phase and 238 in the continuing education phase.
The initiation of total literacy campaigns by the National Literacy Mission has achieved due recognitions also. The UN agency-UNESCO in year 1999 conferred upon it UNESCO Noma Literacy Prize. It also received appreciation of the jury for the teaching learning material produced by it and for the voice raised by it to make quality primary education in schools. In achieving its objective of 100 percent literacy, the National Literacy Mission takes the help of various NGOs existing across the country. For taking active promotional role in the literacy movement, NGOs are provided financial assistance.
The National Literacy Mission also empowers women of the country by including them into their total literacy campaigns. If one goes by the 2001 census, then it will become clear that percentage of female literacy in the country is 54. 16. The literacy campaigns undertaken by NLM not only guides females on how to read and write but also make them aware of the various social issues in the society. Through education earned in campaigns by NLM, females find themselves tremendously confident. They run their family in a better way and have a greater say in the family matters.