Jump in female literacy rate trumps that of male rate

The provisional data of the 2011 census released here on Thursday gave the country some good tidings on the literacy front, as the literacy level has increased by 9.21 percentage points in the past decade to touch 74.04 per cent.

Literates constitute 74 per cent of the total population aged seven years and above and the data shows 26 per cent of the population is still unlettered. The literacy rate went up from 64.83 per cent in 2001 to 74.04 per cent in 2011 — showing an increase of 9.21 percentage points.

Significantly, the female literacy level saw a significant jump as compared to males. The female literacy in 2001 was 53.67 per cent and it has gone up to 65.46 per cent in 2011. The male literacy, in comparison, rose from 75.26 to 82.14 per cent.

Kerala, with 93.91 per cent, continues to occupy the top position among States as far as literacy is concerned, while Mizoram's Serchhip district (98.76 per cent) and Aizawl (98.50 per cent) recorded the highest literacy rates among districts. Madhya Pradesh's Alirajpur district has the lowest literacy rate of 37.22 per cent as also the naxalite-affected Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district, where the literacy rate is 41.58 per cent.

Lakshadweep followed Kerala with a literacy level of 92.28 per cent, while Bihar remained at the bottom of the ladder at 63.82 per cent, followed by Arunachal Pradesh at 66.95 per cent. Ten States and Union Territories, including Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Tripura, Goa, Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Chandigarh, NCT of Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands achieved a literacy rate of above 85 per cent, which met the Planning Commission's target set to be achieved by 2011-12.

The gap of 21.59 percentage points recorded between male and female literacy rates in 2001 census has reduced to 16.68 percentage points in 2011. The Planning Commission is targeting a reduction of this gap to 10 percentage points by 2011-12.

A significant milestone reached in the 2011 census is the fall in the number of illiterate persons by 31,196,847. Of the total decrease in the number of illiterates, women comprise 17,122,197 and men were 14,074,650. It was also encouraging to note that out of a total of 217,700,941 literates added during the decade, females outnumbered males by 110,069,001 to 107,631,940.

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