When India gained independence, the country was left with an overwhelming population of people who could not read or write. Many factors contribute to the low literacy rate in India, mostly in rural areas.
We live in a world of ultra-technology updates, but our literacy system is growing slowly but steadily. In 1950, only 2 in 10 Indians could read and write. In 2022, the numbers are almost reversed. From a mere 18.3% literacy rate in 1951 to 77.7% by 2022.
According to the Indian Census, Kerala has the highest literacy rate among India's 28 states, while Bihar has the lowest. The most educated Union Territory is Lakshadweep, with a literacy rate of about 91.8%. On the other hand, the literacy rate is 68.7%, the lowest in Jammu and Kashmir. In contrast, the national capital, Delhi, has a literacy rate of 86.2%.
India has a low literacy rate due to a large population, poverty, and poor health. The main socio-economic factor causing the low literacy rate in India is poverty. In India, the literacy rate of women is significantly lower than that of men. There are more literate men than women. Furthermore, the poor have less access to education than the rich.
Women have been seen as fewer contributors to society regarding economic and social development. Although women have favourable attitudes and a suitable ability to contribute to society, the social environment in developing countries like India always places women in a lower role in social and economic issues.
Poverty prevents parents from sending their children to school. They cannot even afford necessities like books and uniforms. Therefore, they prefer to send their children to work rather than spend money on education.
It leads to a vicious cycle of poverty, leading to poor educational standards and, ultimately, low literacy rates in India. The low literacy rate also comes from the lack of a quality education system in our country, so students are not adequately guided when studying in high schools or colleges.
The gap between men and women in all of India is 12.9 percentage points, with a male literacy rate of 84.7% and a female literacy rate of 70.3%. The gap between male and female literacy is the lowest in Kerala, at only 2.2%.
Kerala is the most literate state in India and tops the Education Development Index (EDI). In Kerala, most of the rural population can reach a primary school within a short distance. All students, mainly in rural areas, are supported with transport fares.
According to UNESCO, about 763 million people still lack basic literacy. About 60.7 million children do not go to school. Some children attend school irregularly and then drop out. In addition, about 24 million people have been denied formal education due to the pandemic, of which an estimated 11 million are girls and young women.
Literacy shapes a person into a responsible citizen. In a democratic society, people cannot be silent spectators to profound societal changes. However, they must participate effectively in the decision-making process and in the formulation and implementation of development programs. Every citizen must be educated to achieve this goal. In other words, literacy is a tool for development.
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