With literacy rate increasing at a fast pace, Himachal Pradesh is tipped to surpass Kerala to gain top position in literacy in the country by 2011.

According to the 2001 census, Himachal Pradesh had registered a literacy rate of 77 per cent, which showed enormous growth and presently is at 84 per cent, an increase of 7 per cent, Economic Advisor, State Economics and Statistics department, Pradeep Chauhan said on Tuesday.

If the state continues with its present growth, it would topple Kerala to bag first position in the country, Mr. Chauhan said.

Kerala had a literacy rate of 91 per cent according to 2001 census in comparison to 90 per cent in 1991, an increase of mere one per cent, he said.

The growth in literacy rate in Himachal Pradesh was fast even in the last decade when it rose from 64 per cent in 1991 to 77 per cent in 2001, the state economic advisor said.

He attributed the faster growth of literacy in the state to the strong infrastructure in primary schools.

There are 10,613 primary schools in the state against a population of 70 lakh, Mr. Chauhan said adding that the rate of students taking admission in higher education in the state is 20 per cent compared to 14 per cent at the national level.

The ratio of primary schools is 1.74 per one lakh population compared to 0.7 at the national level, he said.

The hill state also has a high percentage of student attendance in schools with 90 per cent, according to the latest annual status of education report, he said.