Even though one among every 10 children in Madhya Pradesh - or 11.43% of all children in the age bracket of 7 to 14 years - is illiterate, the levels of literacy vary considerably over different districts, a recently released Census report shows.
While the tribal-dominated southwestern district of Alirajpur has over 40% illiterate children, only 5.65% of children in Narsinghpur district in southeast MP are illiterate.
Literacy implies that children aged over 7 years of age can read, write and understand at least one language. Apart from Alirajpur, the neighbouring district of Jhabua also has poor literacy levels among children, with 33.16% children falling in the illiterate category.
Nearby Barwani district also has a poor record with 28.08% illiterate children. In contrast, the districts of Mahakoshal and the Gwalior-Chambal regions show a heartening trend.
Balaghat district has reported only 5.82% illiteracy among children and Seoni, 6.77%. Bhind and Datia districts have reported 6.9% and 7.8% illiteracy levels.
Bhopal and Indore have fared average with 10.75% and 9.9% illiterate children.
Former commissioner of public instruction, LS Baghel, said that Narsinghpur was among the first districts in MP to be declared 100% literate and the region has a good educational tradition.
In contrast Alirajpur has the worst overall literacy rate in country according to 2011 Census at 32.7%.
Former chief secretary and president of NGO Child Rights Observatory of MP, Nirmala Buch also said that in some districts such as Narsinghpur, a lot of work was done to achieve good levels of literacy at local levels.
"Good interventions at district level certainly help and such steps are needed in the tribal areas, especially in west MP where the situation is really bad," she said.
The additional chief secretary of school education department SR Mohanty has said that he would be able to comment only after analysing the report properly.
Literacy trends among children are important as they indicate adult literacy levels that the areas can achieve in future, say experts.
They attribute the different trends at district levels to the local outlook towards education and the work on literacy undertaken by the administration in that area.
Poor literacy among adults impacts the children too.
The district-wise figures on illiteracy in the state are available in the report "data on education" based on the Census 2011 released by the office of Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India last week.