Adult literacy report writes a success story

Written by C Jayanthi | New Delhi, Aug 27 | Updated: Aug 28 2008, 06:51am hrs
Indias demographic gift of a large young working population just got better. The literacy rate in the age group of 15- to 19-year olds is expected to increase to 85% by 2011, taking the number of literates in the age group to a whopping 103.4 million.

According to a study, Status of Adult Literacy in India, brought out by the National Literacy Mission (NLM), literacy rate in the age group of 15 and above, is slated to increase from 61% in 2001 to 67.8% by 2011. And the total number of literates in the country is projected to climb up from 405.5 million in 2001 to 573.2 million in 2011, an increase of 168 million.

Thanks to the UPA governments programmes for the education sector, including the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, the overall literacy rate has increased by 4.5 percentage points during the seven years from 1998-99 to 2005-06. According to the monitoring reports of NLM, the achievement levels of adult literacy programmes that was about 8 million in 2000-2001 came down to 3.5 million in 2001-02 and was about 4 million in 2004-05.

At this rate, about 40 million adult illiterates are estimated to become literate through adult literacy programmes during 2001-11. With this, the literacy rate for age group 15 and above will be around 73% by 2011, the study states.

The governments target for ensuring literacy for all is in line with the decision at the World Education Forum held at Darkar, Senegal in April 2000. At the forum, 164 countries, including India participated and resolved to provide Education For All (EFA) by 2015. Among the states, the Mizoram has replaced Kerala (89.9%) with the highest number of literates at 91.1%.

The literacy rates during 2005-06 in the age group of six years and above vary significantly across states. While Delhi has a literacy rate of 84%, Bihar is still lagging behind at 54.1%.

Tripura has a literacy rate of 80.2%; Sikkim at 76.6% is ahead of Tamil Nadu at 74.2%. Madhya Pradesh 60.9% and Uttar Pradesh have 61.6% while Rajasthan at 57.4% is behind Orissa at 68.8%. Goa has a literacy rate 83.3%, Himachal Pradesh has a literacy of 81.3%.

Among the low literacy rates, seven states that have more than five million illiterates each in the age group 15-35, had over 60% of the total illiterates of the country. UP has 60.53%, Bihar 51.50%, Andhra Pradesh 66.35%, Rajasthan 66.41%, Madhya Pradesh 68.98%, Orissa 69.45% and Jharkhand 58.69%. The number of illiterates in the seven states taken together takes the total number of illiterates in the country to 100.7 million.