26th November 2019 : The Hindu Editorials Notes : Mains Sure Shot  

No. 1.

Question – What is meant by reading literacy? Analyse keeping the observations of the World Bank Group in mind.(250 words)

Context – The agenda 2030 of World Bank in context of literacy.

What is reading literacy?

  • Reading literacy is defined in PISA as the ability to understand, use and reflect on written texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate effectively in society.
  • PISA is the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment. Every three years it tests 15-year-old students from all over the world in reading, mathematics and science. The tests are designed to gauge how well the students master key subjects in order to be prepared for real-life situations in the adult world.
  • Simply put reading literacy is the ability of a child to read and ‘understand’ the text that he or she is reading.


  • Many children — more than half of all 10 year olds in low- and middle-income countries — cannot read and understand a simple story.
  • If we look at the global average then we are in the middle of a global learning crisis that stifles opportunities and aspirations of hundreds of millions of children. 
  • Keeping this in mind, in October, the World Bank Group released data to support a new learning target: i.e. by 2030 to cut, by at least half, the global level of learning poverty.

Why should we remove reading illiteracy?

  • Learning to read is an especially critical skill because it opens a world of possibilities, and it is the foundation on which other essential learning is built — including numeracy and science. 
  • The learning crisis not only wastes the children’s potential, it hurts entire economies. It will negatively impact future workforces and economic competitiveness — as the World Bank’s Human Capital Index shows that, globally, the productivity of the average child born today is expected to be only 56% of what it would be if countries invested enough in health and education.
  • Wiping out learning poverty (defined as the percentage of children who cannot read and understand a simple story by age 10) is an urgent matter. It is key to eliminating poverty in general and boosting shared prosperity. 


  • With learning how to read and comprehend (understand) a particular text the child is opened to a window of opportunities. He can read books of literature or science or mathematics and develop his or her areas of interest and strive to excel in the field.
  • Otherwise if learning is limited to the luxury of a few, the opportunities will be closed to the children of the poor for whom education is the only means of attaining a better future.
  • But over the last several years, progress in reducing learning poverty has been stagnant. Globally between 2000 and 2017, there has only been a 10% improvement in learning outcomes for primary school-aged children. If this pace continues, 43% of 10-year-olds will not be able to read in 2030.
  • But the good news is, the children who will turn 10 in 2030 will be born next year. If we work urgently, there is an opportunity to reverse this trend.
  • The target we have set is ambitious but achievable — and should galvanise action toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) — ensuring quality education for all. It will require nearly tripling the rate of progress worldwide, which can be done if every country can match the performance of the countries that made the most progress between 2000 and 2015.

Few Examples:

  • In India, the Right-to-Education Act has been successful in increasing coverage and access to school education but now there is an urgent need to shift the focus to quality. 
  • The decision of India to join the Programme for International Student Assessment and the merger of schemes under Samagra Shiksha are encouraging signs that India is moving in this direction.
  • In Kenya, the government’s national reading programme has more than tripled the percentage of grade two students reading at an appropriate level. This was accomplished through technology-enabled teacher coaching, teacher guides, and delivering one book per child.
  • In Vietnam, a lean, effective curriculum ensures that the basics are covered, there is deep learning of fundamental skills, and all children have reading materials. Learning outcomes of Vietnamese students in the bottom 40% of the income ladder are as high, or higher, than the average student in high-income countries.

Why one programme does not suit all?

  • The challenges of reducing learning poverty will differ between countries and regions. In some countries, access to school remains an enormous problem — 258 million young people were out of school globally, in 2018. In other countries, children are in classrooms but are not learning.

So what can be done?

  • By setting a global target, the World Bank can work with countries to define their own national learning targets. 
  • Because cutting learning poverty in half by 2030 is only an intermediate goal. The final ambition is to work with governments and development partners to bring that number to zero.

What steps the World Bank has thought of?

  • As the largest financier of education in low-and middle-income countries, the World Bank has decided to work with countries to promote reading proficiency in primary schools. Policies include providing detailed guidance and practical training for teachers, ensuring access to more and better age-appropriate texts, and teaching children in the language they use at home.
  • The World Bank is also working with governments and development partners to improve entire education systems. That means making sure children come to school prepared and motivated to learn; teachers are effective and valued and have access to technology; classrooms provide a well-equipped space for learning; schools are safe and inclusive; and education systems are well-managed.
  • Along with continued research and innovation, and the smart use of new technologies on how to build foundation skills.

Way ahead:

  • The government should steadily and persistently work in collaboration with the World Bank and make optimum use of their funds, research and experience.


No. 2.

Question – The Constitution’s durability arises from the basic commitment and  experience its makers showed even in the 1940s. Explain. 

Context – Today / Constitution Day 2019

Critics of Indian constitution:

  1. Sir Ivor Jennings :- He summed up Indian constitution in one sentence ” Too Long , too rigid , too prolix, too caged by its history, and too unwieldy to be moulded into something useful through judicious interpretations. Overall, his judgment was that the Constitution would not endure.

Experience across the world over the longevity of constitution of various countries:

  1. As per study “The Lifespan of Written Constitutions, by Thomas Ginsburg, Zachary Elkins, and James Melton following points can be observed –
    1. The study discloses that constitutions, in general, do not last very long. The mean lifespan across the world since 1789 is, hold your breath, a mere 17 years. This age differs from region to region. 
    2. Constitution are most likely to be replaced by the age of 10 years to 35 years. However the risk of replacement is relatively higher during this period and constitution begin to crystallise until almost age 50. 

Factors Endurance of constitution:

  1. Occurrence of shock and crisis such as war, civil war or the threat of imminent breakup;
  2. Structural attributes of the constitution, namely its detail, enforceability and its adaptability;
  3. Structural attributes of the state.
  4. Specificity of the document, the inclusiveness of the constitution’s origins, and the constitution’s ability to adapt to changing conditions
  5.  Constitution that are ratified by public reference enjoy higher levels of legitimacy

Reason for high durability of Indian constitution – India constitution has survived 69 years:

  1. Makers of constitution were committed to social welfare and justice. 
  2. Suitability – Indian constitution is very robust in nature as basic framework of constitution is very much suited to our country. Parliamentary system and Federal system of government is suitable to the multitude of diversity in India. 
  3. Comprehensive and responsive,relevant Farsighted Constitutional makers were able to foresee many future challenges for India hence provided many solutions for future situations. Indian constitution provides solutions and answers to the various questions and problem contemporary to the period of writing of the constitution and also provide durable framework for the democratic governance. Longer constitutions are  more durable than the shorter constitution as they specify matters in details. Constitution works best when they are most like ordinary statues – relatively detailed and easy to modify. Specificity of the provisions that produced an excellent balance between redundant verbosity and confounding ambiguity.
  4. Maturity and flexibility in implementing of constitution Both judicial rulings and political practices adopted flexibility in interpretation. This reduced the need of amendment and constitutional rewriting. It allowed constitution to give meaning and adjust with the needs and aspirations of society. Judiciary were able to fill the legal vacuum indirectly and inactivity on the part of parliament to insert direct amendment was balanced through giving wider interpretation.  
  5. Higher level of public inclusion at the drafting stage and approval stage – Almost all groups were represented in the constituent assembly. No single group was able to dominate the assembly. 
  6. A workable scheme of amendment – Acceptance the need of modification with the changing needs of society. In democracy , new ideas and practices keeps on evolving. It is the hallmark of democratic constitution to be dynamic , open to interpretation and able to respond to new changes.  Hence provided very detailed procedure for the amendment of the constitution. 
  7. Political maturity – Political leader and all other institution  showed their maturity by finally accepting the theory of inviolable basic structure.
  8. Citizen acceptance – Vision of constitutional makers got reflected in the constitution itself. Preamble and many provision of constitution is highly inspired by the speech of tryst with destiny. This vision has not disappeared yet and same vision continues in the minds of political leaders and citizens yet. Hence constitution still enjoys the same respect from citizens and various institutions.

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