India has by far the largest population of illiterate adults at 287 million, amounting to 37 per cent of the global total, a United Nations report said in 2014 highlighting the huge disparities existing in education levels of the country’s rich and poor.
A similar report, ‘The 2013/14 Education for All Global Monitoring Report’ said India’s literacy rate rose from 48 per cent in 1991 to 63 per cent in 2006, the latest year it has available data, but population growth cancelled the gains so there was no change in the number of illiterate adults. Let us find out some more starking facts about the Indian education system.
It has been seven years since the Right to Education Act has been enacted and yet recent data shows that more than 60 lakh children in India are out of school. Data from the ‘National Sample Survey of Estimation of Out-of-School Children in the Age 6-13 in India’ by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan for 2014 shows that around 3 percent of the 20.4 crore school-going children in India are deprived of the access to schools.
In spite of the adoption of ‘mission mode’ to universalise elementary education, the dropout rate in schools continues to be high. The Indian government, in its mission to universalise elementary education, has over the years been able to increase the rate of enrolment but has failed to arrest the dropout rate. Due to number of factors, girls’ drop out rate at primary level is an embarrassing 34%.
Some states’ data reveal figures that will leave us wondering if any progress has taken place. The literacy rate of female Dalits in Bihar is 38.5% in 2011. It is far behind India’s progress trend. It is still 30 years behind the India’s national literacy rate which was 43.7 in 1981.
Overall, in female literacy, India ranks a lowly 123rd. In most countries, female and male literacies are roughly equal. India is among the very few countries where female literacy is less than 75% of male literacy rate.
Among communities, tribals and dalits fare worst with just 1.8% of them having any higher education. Muslims are almost as badly off, with just 2.1% able to go for further learning. Similarly, just 2% of the rural population is educated beyond higher secondary level, compared to 12% of the urban population and just 3% of women got a college education compared to 6% of men. And just 1 out of 9 children finishing school join a college.
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