International Literacy Day: Some facts about literacy in India and the world

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International Literacy Day is observed to highlight the importance of literacy in our lives. The day, which is marked on 8 September annually, reminds people that literacy is a matter of human rights and dignity. International Literacy Day also promotes a more literate society. The day has been observed since 1967 all over the globe. The day draws attention to literacy as a tool for empowering individuals and communities. International Literacy Day also highlights how increased levels of literacy can help humanity deal with a variety of social, economic and political problems.

Literacy is a major component of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The global body and its members aim to ensure that they can provide quality education to all individuals across the globe.

However, the start of the coronavirus pandemic has derailed the progress rate towards this goal. About 147 million children missed over half of in-person instruction in 2020-21, as per the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is projected that almost 24 million learners might never return to formal education. Out of the total 11 million are projected to be young women and girls.

While all member states of the UN celebrate International Literacy Day with great enthusiasm, several gaps between countries, and even within regions of a particular country remain. This International Literacy Day, let’s take a look at some interesting facts about literacy rates around the world:

  • A total of 771 million adults around the world still lack basic literacy skills. About half of the global illiterate population lives in South Asia, while a quarter is in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Before the pandemic, the percentage of children out of primary and secondary school had fallen from 26 percent in the year 2000 to 17 percent in 2018.
  • If we look at the region-wise distribution of children out of school, sub-Saharan Africa tops the list. More than 85 percent of children in the region are not learning the minimum.
  • Even before the pandemic truck, adult education was not one of the top priorities of many governments. Almost 60 percent of governments all over the globe spent less than 4 percent of their education budget on adult literacy and education.
  • In India, the overall literacy rate is 74.04 percent.
  • In India, gender gaps exist in literacy rates as well. While a total of 82.14 percent of males are literate, for females, the literacy rate is 65.46 percent.
  • Kerala is the most literate state with 93.91 percent literacy rate, as per the 2011 Census. Lakshadweep and Mizoram are ranked second and third.
  • Bihar has the lowest literacy rate in the country at 63.82 percent. Arunachal Pradesh (66.95 percent) and Rajasthan (67.06 percent) are just above it.

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International Literacy Day: Some facts about literacy in India and the world
International Literacy Day: Some facts about literacy in India and the world
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