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By Way2k Way2k
Way2k 29 Sep 2012
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State in Elite Group with 83% Literacy
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Literacy may be the most encouraging story to have emerged from the provisional figures of Census 2011. Maharashtra has in the last decade moved into the elite group of states that record over 80% literacy rates. It now stands alongside states such as Kerala and Mizoram, which have traditionally been known for their literate classes.

State in Elite Group with 83 percent Literacy

There has been a remarkable ascent in literacy in India, especially in Maharashtra, said Dr. P. Arokiasamy of the Deonar-based International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS). With 82.91% of its population now knowing how to read and write, Maharashtra has certainly made progress in the last decade. In Census 2001, only 76.88% of the states residents could be classified as literates. Sceptics, however, point out that this increase is mainly due to the humble criteria for literacy: primary education.

In numerical terms, Maharashtras population stands at 11.2 crore. Over 82 lakh or 83% of the population that is over seven years of age of these are literate. The other highlight of this Census for Maharashtra is the fact that the urban-rural gap in education has narrowed further. At present, the gap stands at 12.75% with the urban literate population standing at 89.84% and the rural populace at 77.09%. This urban-rural gap stood at 15.12% in 2001, pointed out Census India officials.

Dr. Arokiasamy said, until two decades ago, in Maharashtra, only two in every three males and one in every 3 women were literate. Now, it looks impressive at four in every five men and two in every three women. However, Census officials point out that the gender gap is still steep. Although the overall gap between male and female literacy rate is nearly about 14% points in the state, this gap is 19% in rural areas and 9% in urban, said an official.

But not all are impressed with Maharashtra’s elevation into the group of India’s most literate states. S. Parasuraman, director of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, makes a distinction between education and literacy. While literacy has increased, it doesn’t necessarily mean education has increased. Things are definitely improving as more people go to school and are retained there thanks to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme. However, there is a high drop out at the end of elementary education, which needs looking into, he said. Incidentally, there are two reasons for Maharashtra not registering a better literacy rate. First, there is a sizeable number of 50-years-plus groups which never went to school. Moreover, there is a negative population growth resulting in fewer children being born. These two contrasts are responsible for Maharashtra’s failure to register a better literacy rate, said Dr. Arokiasamy.

Courtesy: Times of India

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