World Literacy Day: Is all the talk of development just hogwash! There’s almost a 20% gap between male and female literacy levels in India!


Ever since UNESCO proclaimed September 8 as the International Literacy Day, we have been celebrating it every year. The aim is to highlight the importance of being a literate, which means anyone above the age of seven who can read and write with understanding in any language, with respect to individuals, communities, societies and countries. Let’s start with our own country – India where the majority lives in rural areas. But can we consider these areas at par with urban areas in term of adult literacy, access to primary schooling, computer accessibility and other facilities? Let’s find out!

The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has recently conducted a survey to know its performance over one key development indicator, literacy. It covered the length and breadth of the country with samples taken from over 36,000 households in rural areas and more than 29,000 in urban areas from over 4,500 villages and about 3,500 urban blocks. The overall literacy rate in the country was pegged at 75%. Not Bad! Now allow us to bring you some more interesting observations when literacy rate was seen from the angle of rural and urban areas.

(Image: Indiatimes/Reuters)
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Rural areas Vs Urban areas:

Rural areas Vs Urban areas:
The result was as per our expectations. Literacy rate in urban areas was pegged at 86% last year, compared to 71% in rural areas, while among the age group between seven years and above, male literacy rate was found higher with 83% than the female literacy rate with 67% in 2014.  

On graduate level:

On graduate level:
It was found in rural areas, nearly 4.5% of males and 2.2% of females completed the graduate level degree or above, while in urban areas 17% of males and 13% of females completed this level. Again urban areas are leading! The proportion of people having completed higher level of education, say, graduation or above was more in urban areas than in rural areas. 
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Adult literacy (age 15 years and above):

Adult literacy (age 15 years and above):
The rate was around 71% in India. For adults also, literacy rate in rural areas was lower than that in urban areas. In rural areas, adult literacy rate was 64% compared to 84% in urban areas. Again urban areas are ahead of rural areas when it comes to adult literacy. 

Access to primary schooling:

Access to primary schooling:
This was one point where there was no significant difference between rural and urban India in terms of distance for physical access to primary schooling. In both rural and urban areas, nearly 99% households reported availability of primary schools within 2 km from the house.
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With regard to attending Govt. institutions:

With regard to attending Govt. institutions:
In rural areas, majority of the students were attending government institutions predominantly up to higher secondary levels, whereas a completely different picture was seen in urban areas. In rural areas, 72% of the students at primary level, 76% at upper primary level and 64% at secondary and higher secondary level attended government institutions. While in urban areas, 31% at primary level, 38% at upper primary level as well as secondary and higher secondary level, attended government institutions. 

Computer accessibility

Computer accessibility
About 6% of rural households and 29% of urban household possessed computer. Among households in the country, with at least one member aged above 14 years and above, nearly 27% had internet access in the survey. The proportions were 16% among rural households and 49% of urban households. Among people of age 14-29 years, nearly 18% in rural areas and 49% in urban areas were able to operate a computer. 
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