National Literacy Mission (NLM) was set up by the government of India on 5th May 1988 with an aim to eradicate illiteracy in the country by imparting functional literacy to non-literates. Thus, National Literacy Mission (NLM) was established not only to make everybody just self reliant in three R’s- 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 (NLM) 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 30th 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 Novermber 2002, 596 districts out of the total 600 districts of the country had been covered up by the National Literacy Mission (NLM) 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 recognisition 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.