Despite its much-touted “school chalein hum” campaign that focused on getting all children to school, over 15.42 lakh children in MP in the age groups of seven to 14 years are illiterate, according to the latest Census figures.
The “data on education”, which gives age-wise educational status of children under the Census 2011 was released by the Office of Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India last week.
An analysis of the figures shows that across India, over 2.51 crore children in the age groups of 7 to 14 years are illiterate and 6.1% of them — 15.42 lakh — are in MP.
According to the Census definition, “a person aged 7 years and above who can both read and write with understanding in any language is taken as literate. A person who can only read but cannot write is not literate (is illiterate).”
This means that notwithstanding the claim of state government that all eligible (over age of six years) children are enrolled in schools, lakhs of children are still not able to read, write or comprehend a language.
Sources said that during the academic session 2014-15, almost 1.35 crore children in MP were enrolled in schools from class 1 to 8, exceeding the target set by the school education department.
A senior official in the department, on the condition of anonymity, said that the Census figures put a question mark on the “no detention” policy till class 8 under Right to Education (RTE) and there is strong need to review it. “It seems that with no fear of failing, kids and teachers are both taking it easy,” he said.
Principal secretary of the department, SR Mohanty, however, said that he would have to look at the figures and analyse them before commenting on the issue.
The Census data shows that there are almost 135 crore children in the age group of 7 to 14 in MP — over 69.87 lakh boys and 65.05 lakh girls. Of these, 7,60,436 boys (10.88%) and 7,81,671 girls (12.01%) are illiterate. Overall, the percentage of illiterate kids in the state stands at 11.42%.
The situation is partially better than the national average where 12.07% kids have been categorised as illiterate. The illiteracy rate for boys is 11.04%, while for girls it is 13.21%.
Nirmala Buch, president of Childs Rights Observatory of MP that analysed the data, said that the figures suggest that the learning capability of children enrolled in schools is not up to the mark.
“I think the RTE provision of no detention till class 8 has been misinterpreted. The RTE norms require continuous evaluation and assessment of the children and additional tuition for those whose learning levels were not found up to mark,” she said.
Number of illiterate children
Males Females Total
India 1.99 crore 1.31 crore 2.51 crore
MP 7.60 lakh 7.81 lakh 15.42 lakh