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Treat illiteracy on par with security, says Jesse Jackson

Posted on Feb 26 2014 | IANS

Kolkata, Feb 26 : Legendary US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson Wednesday said battling illiteracy in India should be seen as important as the issue of national security.

Responding to questions from students at the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta (IIM-C) here, Jackson said it is a challenge for the government to strengthen primary education.

"...There must be fundamental government policy for empowerment. I am dead convinced, to wipe out illiteracy, it must be seen as national security," he said during an interactive session.

On his trip to the city, Jackson, who also ran for the US Presidency, interacted with school and college students, visited the city's red light area and observed that children there are "excited about learning".

Advocating equal opportunities for all, Jackson drew parallels to a game of soccer where the playing field is equal.

"In soccer, there is an inherent sense of justice, in the sense that the playing field is equal. Whenever the playing field is even and the rules are public and the goals are clear, the referees are fair and the scores are transparent, we can make it," he said.

"No matter what your background may have been, the situation you were born in, no one has monopoly on genius," said Jackson who branded himself an "opportunist for justice".

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