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Efforts be made to improve literacy rate in India
NGOs and corporates should come forward to introduce new programmes to boost literacy rate in the country. The governments, both at the state and central level, should also monitor various schemes aimed at boosting the literacy rate.

THE NATIONAL Literacy Mission defines literacy as acquiring the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and the ability to apply them to one's day-to-day life. The International Literacy Day is celebrated each year on September 8 with the aim to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.

Literacy in India is key for socio-economic progress, and the Indian literacy rate grew to 74.04% in 2011 from 12% at the end of British Rule in 1947. India currently has the largest illiterate population on Earth. There is a wide gender disparity in the literacy rate in India.

Although schooling is free and compulsory from 6–14 years of age, facilities are inadequate and often totally lacking. Approximately 40% of students, mostly girls, drop out by secondary school. It is estimated that by the year 2020 over 50% of the illiterate population will live in India.

The table below shows the adult and youth literacy rates:


Adult Literacy Rate

Youth Literacy Rate


95.9% (2009)

99.4% (2009)

World Average

84% (1998)

88% (2001)


74.04% (2011)

82% (2001)

The absence of adequate school infrastructure like improper facilities and inefficient teaching staff is one of the main factors affecting literacy in India. There is a shortage of classrooms to accommodate all the students. In addition, there is no proper sanitation in most schools. The Teachers also remain absent most of the time.

Severe caste disparities also exist. Discrimination of lower castes has resulted in high dropout rates and low enrolment rates. Poverty is yet another drawback.

The large proportion of illiterate females is another reason for low literacy in India. Inequality based on gender differences resulted in female literacy rates being lower.

Sons are thought to be more useful and hence are educated.Females are pulled out to help on agricultural farms and at home, as they are increasingly replacing the males on such activities, which require no formal education.

Kerala is the most literate state in India, with almost 100% literacy, followed closely by Lakshadweep at 92.28% and Mizoram. Bihar is the least literate state in India with 63.82% literacy. Kerala topped the Education Development Index (EDI) with more than 94% of the rural population having access to primary schools within 1 km radius.

Several states in India have executed successful programmes to boost literacy rates. Bihar has significantly raised the literacy rate as per the 2011 census.

Several NGOs (non-governmental organizations) such as ITC, Rotary Club, Lions Club have worked to improve the literacy rate in India. Apart from above, the corporate sector in India has pitched in with the aim of improving literacy, primarily in villages.

The latest RTE Act, 2009, which became operative on April 1, 2010 provides free and compulsory education for all the children in the 6-14 age group- a Fundamental Right.

The purpose of the Scheme is completely defeated in case it is not monitored properly as per the laid down procedures. To make it a real success its implementation in the desired manner is a must.

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