The world celebrates international literacy day on September 8 every year. First introduced by declared at UNESCO’s general conference in 1966, the day celebrates world literacy. The literacy rate is a vital socio-economic factor that keeps changing from place to place. It is a major factor for a developing country like India and it shows in the efforts put forth by the government to increase the same.
According to data provided by the National Statistical Commission survey, India’s literacy stood at 77.7 per cent in 2017–18. Based on the survey, the literacy rate in urban areas was significantly higher at 87.7 per cent when compared to the 73.5 per cent in rural areas. The study also showed a wide gender disparity in the literacy rate in the country. Literacy rates was at 84.7 per cent for men and 70.3 per cent for women in the country.
The state of Kerala held the highest literacy rate while the lowest rate was recorded in Andhra Pradesh. Kerala topped the list with a total literacy rate of 96.2 per cent literacy rate while being followed by Delhi with 88.7 per cent. According to the 2021-22 socio-economic survey results, the literacy rate of Andhra Pradesh at 67.35 per cent was considerably lower than the national percentage.
The literacy rate shows the average number of literates in a given area or group. The literacy rate can be calculated by dividing the number of literates in a given age group by the corresponding age group population and multiplying the resulting number by 100. The number of illiterates can be found from the same calculation or by subtracting the literacy rate from 100. According to the 2011 census, anyone above the age of seven with the ability to read and write can be included as literate.
The low literacy rate for females in India remains a major concern. As per the National Statistical Commission survey results, the literacy rate for Indian women stood at 70.3 per cent. This is marginally less than that of the male population. The low female literacy rate has many factors including the negative impact on family planning efforts in the country. Lack of economic independence and unavailability of infrastructure in rural areas also remains factors of the same. However, the 2011 census, indicated the growth of the female literacy rate being significantly higher than the male literacy rate. According to experts, the gender gap could further narrow in the next few decades.