Literacy is a powerful tool to improve the lives of people. It helps them to overcome the struggles of poverty. And empowers them to prosper independently. The benefits of education and literacy are widely discussed topics. But in India, we are still struggling to make our population 100% literate.

Some figures about literacy:

India’s total literacy rate is 77.70% (2021 and 2022). And this weightage is achieved after a very long period of reforms and policies.

In the year 1947 when India got its independence, the literacy rate was dismal. Only 18% of the overall population was literate. And the same weightage was even worse for females (only 8.86%). From this percentage to the current literacy rate, India has covered a huge gap with a network of traditional and online schools. India’s literacy rate state wise has increased considerably. And the weightage of the female literate population has also improved substantially.

Before we discuss the Top 10 Education States in India, let’s take a look at some NFHS Survey findings:

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) provided details on many aspects related to family planning, health, nutrition, etc. through multi-round surveys in India.

Let’s begin by taking a look at some of the top findings (demographic and socioeconomic characteristics) of the survey respondents.

  • The literacy rate of men was reported as 84%.
  • For women, this rate was 72%.
  • 41% of women and 32% of men were not exposed to mass media.
  • 75% of men and 25% of women are employed
  • 46% of women and 32% of men were employed as agricultural workers.
  • 11% of women and 9% of men were employed in the private sector. 

Let’s move on to the actual census 2011 state-wise literacy rates now.

India Literacy Rate State Wise

Here is a rundown for The Top 10 Most literate States in India

  1. Kerala
  2. Delhi
  3. Chandigarh
  4. Himanchal Pradesh
  5. Maharashtra
  6. Tamil Nadu
  7. Uttarakhand
  8. Gujrat
  9. West Bengal
  10. Punjab

The table below shows the state-wise literacy rates in India as of 2011

State Literacy Rate State Literacy Rate
Kerala94.0%Delhi86.2%
Chandigarh86.0%Himachal Pradesh 82.8%
Maharashtra82.3%Tamil Nadu80.1%
Uttarakhand78.8%Gujrat78.0%
West Bengal76.3%Punjab75.8%
Haryana75.6%Karnataka75.4%
Meghalaya74.4%Chhattisgarh70.3%
Madhya Pradesh69.3%Uttar Pradesh67.7%
Jammu and Kashmir 67.2%Andhra Pradesh67.0%
Jharkhand66.4%Rajasthan66.1%
Bihar61.8%
State wise literacy in India

In India literacy rate by state as per the census 2011 shows a remarkable improvement in the condition of literacy. Kerala was the most literate state and Bihar was at the least literate state in India.

Since then, we are making constant efforts. And, the index on ‘Foundational Literacy and Numeracy’ (released in the year 2021) showcased both small and large states who made exceptional efforts to improve literacy rates with their planned approaches. So, Let’s discuss more about these Literate states

Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Index Details-State- Wise

The Foundational Literacy and Numeracy index shows the indicators of literacy in children below 10 years of age. The table below has the details of the state wise ranking in this index. 

Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Index
Small States Large States Rank
KeralaWest Bengal1
Himachal PradeshTamil Nadu2
PunjabMaharashtra3
UttarakhandKarnataka4
HaryanaGujarat5
GoaRajasthan6
ChhattisgarhMadhya Pradesh7
Andhra PradeshUttar Pradesh8
TelanganaBihar9

Union Territories like Chandigarh, Delhi, Daman and Diu also performed exceptionally well.    

From the initial days of India’s independence to recent times, we have come a long way. Despite the problems of literacy in India, some of the top-rank literate states have made it big in achieving these milestones of literacy and quality education.

Let’s figure out how they made it possible.

Best Practices of some Top Rank Literate States

Kerala and West Bengal (Most Literate states)

India Today reveals the recent figures of India’s most literate state, Kerala (as per the recent National Statistical Office data, as of 2018). The state has nailed it with a fantastic literacy rate of 96.2%. And the break-up of male and female population literacy rates is equally impressive. Female literacy in this state is as high as 95.2%. While the male literacy rate tops the chart with 97.4%.

A leading journal, Deccan Herald investigates the reason why the state has achieved this remarkable benchmark. It was found that Kerala reached this milestone by bringing in the members of the marginalized sections into the mainstream through the power of literacy. 1, 08,057 illiterate people have joined the literate group in a span of 4 years (from 2016 to 2020). And this figure included the tribal community as well.

The best part is that for the first time in a period of 30 years, this most literate state managed to achieve these targets. As not just the inhabitants of Kerala, but even the ones who migrated to the state attained the minimum literacy levels.

Similarly, West Bengal made some great efforts to improve its educational infrastructure.

Delhi

The initiatives taken by the Delhi government and awareness in the masses have helped Delhi to be a hub of quality education. With some visionary steps such as the launching of an online school. And the transformation of Delhi’s education system, there has been a positive change in the quality of education. In the year 2014, 89 and 82% of students passed standardized exams for grades 10th and 12th. In the year 2021, 100% of students who took standardized tests passed it. 

Chandigarh

Another example of learning enhancement through initiatives is Chandigarh. This Union Territory introduced BaLA project in 100 government schools. Under this project, initiatives like new language labs, Social Science labs, study tours, Knowledge parks, etc. helped to improve the learning outcomes of students.  

While some states have shown remarkable improvements, others still seem to struggle.

Which is the lowest literate state in India?

To reduce the extent of illiteracy in India, several initiatives are planned and implemented by policymakers. Despite making all efforts, basic education and foundational literacy are still fancy terms for many Indians. Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan have the lowest literacy rates in India.

Literacy and India

Literacy rate in India

The literacy rate in India has improved over a period of time. And in the years to come, our policymakers have bigger plans to make it even better. Our government has declared its aims to achieve universal foundational literacy and numeracy in primary school by 2025 as an urgent national mission (Part 2.2 Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, National Education Policy 2020).  

It is wonderful that our policymakers are keen to address this issue. But is it practically possible to reach this milestone? Here’s a reality check of some ongoing problems!

What are the Ground Level Problems of Literacy in India?

The causes of illiteracy in India have made it one of the biggest challenges that the country faces (266,180,342 Indians were illiterate as of 2011). The issue of awareness in our masses has defeated the purpose of several national policies and government initiatives. The masses are still not able to make the most of the government policies at the ground level. And the number of out-of-school children is still alarming.

As per World Bank, 6,545,825 primary age group children were out of school as of 2020. And this is not all. There are some other causes as well 

Causes of illiteracy in India

  • Lack of parental support.
  • Dropping out of school
  • Challenging situations
  • Learning disabilities
  • Financial problems
  • Difficulty in understanding academic subjects
  • Discrimination against girls

Why does India have a poor female literacy rate?

Female literacy rate in India

One out of 4 women, three were literate in India (as per a survey in 2020).

As of 2021, the male literacy rate was 84.4%. However, the same was only 71.5% of the female population. In states with a higher illiterate population like Bihar, these numbers are gradually increasing because of government schemes. From 56.9% in National Family Health survey-4 to 61.1% in the next survey, the improvement is visible. However, to achieve the actual targets we still need to defeat the barriers to girl education. And help them to avail the benefits of government schemes like cycle yojna (Bihar), Udaan, and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, etc.

How can we resolve these literacy issues?

The greatest of challenges can be defeated with honest efforts. And the same is true for the problem of illiteracy in India. Our country needs better ground-level implementation of the government policies. And this target cannot be achieved only by our policymakers. As stakeholders, all of us have a part to play. We need to keep a check on student enrollment. And raise our voices for any case of RTE (Right to Education) violation. The solution is possible through a joint effort. So each one of us should make deliberate efforts to increase the awareness of education in the masses.

In India literacy rate state wise can also be improved by taking up educational alternatives like online schools to eliminate barriers to a child’s education.

Concluding Thoughts

Literacy is the foundation of a successful life! And an imperative factor for the country’s growth and process. In India, the change is visible. However, the way forward is still long and difficult for many families.

Despite the complexity of situations, we must always remember that the change starts with us. Let’s gear up to remove the stigma of illiteracy from the face of our great nation. And drive the change that we wish to see as responsible stakeholders!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is the extent of illiteracy in India?
    Illiteracy in India is a big challenge. By the year 2015 UNESCO reported the figure of 32,663,864 illiterate population between the age groups of 15 to 24 years.  The same number was 266,180,342 for the Indian population that was over 15 years of age.
  • Which are the top 10 education state in India?
    The top 10 education states are as follows:
    1. Kerala
    2. West Bengal
    3. Himachal Pradesh
    4. Tamil Nadu
    5. Punjab
    6. Maharashtra
    7. Uttarakhand
    8. Karnataka
    9. Haryana
    10. Gujarat.
  • How to resolve the problems of literacy in India?
    The problem of illiteracy can be resolved by spreading awareness among the masses about the benefits of education. And the varied government schemes that are already operational across the world. We also need to get the out-of-school children back into the mainstream system by taking proactive steps to resolve their family issues.
  • Which state is lowest literate in India?
    Bihar is the lowest literate state in India.  
  • How can we improve the female literacy rate in India?
    We must encourage girl education and help to retain them within the mainstream schooling system. There should be a conscious effort to free girls from the burden of household chores at the school-going age.

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