Less than 40% people pursue secondary or higher education in India

Kerala has the highest literacy rate in the country; gender and urban-rural disparity high, says survey

University of East Anglia, Bonnie Teague, Lucy Hunn, Norwich Medical School, literacy, mental health
There are still an estimated 773 million adults globally who can't read or write, according to Bonnie Teague from Norwich Medical School. | Representative Photo: iStock

India’s average literacy rate is 77.7 per cent with Kerala emerging as the most literate state, but only 38.7 per cent of the population in the country has managed to complete secondary or higher education, according to a survey by the National Statistical Office (NSO).

The survey also indicated that gender disparity and the urban-rural divide in literacy was high.

At 63.8 per cent, national capital Delhi has the highest population of people who have completed secondary or higher secondary education.

Delhi is followed by Kerala with 56.9 per cent and Himachal Pradesh with 55.8 per cent. Jharkhand is the worst performer, with only 28.7 per cent people having completed secondary or higher secondary education.

In as many as eight states, less than one-third of the population (below 33 per cent) have completed this level of education. These are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand.

Kerala leads in overall literacy, AP worst 

India’s average literacy rate is 77.7 per cent, according to the NSO survey.

Kerala has topped the list with 96.2 per cent literacy, while Andhra Pradesh was ranked last with a literacy rate of just 66.4 per cent in the survey for which persons aged above seven were considered.

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Delhi, which has been hailed for the education reforms initiated by the AAP government, recorded 88.7 per cent literacy and is ranked second.

Uttarakhand (87.6 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (86.6 per cent) and Assam (85.9 per cent) make up the top five along with Kerala and Delhi.

Bihar with a literacy rate of 70.9 per cent and Rajasthan with 69.7 per cent are among the bottom three.

A person who can read and write a simple message in any language with understanding is considered literate.

The literacy rate is defined as the percentage of literate persons among people aged seven and above, according to the survey document.

Gender disparity high

The survey said there is a huge gender disparity in education. While 84.7 per cent men are literate, only 70.3 per cent among women have obtained literacy, the survey showed. The gender disparity is the least in Kerala with a gap of just 2.2 per cent, while it is the highest in Rajasthan at 23.2 per cent. Trans-genders have been considered under the male (men) category.

The disparity is less that 10 per cent in West Bengal, Assam, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. In Delhi, it is 11.3 per cent, the survey showed.

Huge gap between Bharat and India

India’s urban areas have a greater literacy rate than rural India.

The gap is 14.2 per cent — rural India recorded 73.5 per cent literacy rate, while urban areas had 87.7 per cent. Kerala has topped this table as well with a mere 1.9 per cent gap between urban and rural literacy. Telangana has the greatest disparity of 23.4 per cent.