Nearly 2.6 million disabled children either did not see the inside of a school or had to drop out, a report on the 2011 census released on Monday said.
The report said only four million — 61% of India’s 6.6 million disabled population in the 5-19 age group — were studying in an educational institution in 2011.
The proportion of children studying in a school was higher for the total population by 10 percentage points (71%).
Of the rest, 27% (1.75 million) children with special needs never attended any school, while 12% (0.8 million) had dropped out of school.
The census report said the proportion of disabled children, who had never attended any educational institution, was the highest among people with multiple disability (54.4%), followed by mental illness (50.3%) and mental retardation (41.2%).
Persons with any other disability (17.7%) show the least percentage.
Worldwide, the International Disability and Development Consortium report said about 32.2 million school-age children with disabilities were kept out of the classroom.
The lack of access to education for the disabled is also reflected in lower literacy rates for them.
Across all age groups, the census report said the literacy rate among the disabled (which had increased from 49% in 2001 to 54.5% in 2011) was much lower than the overall literacy rate of 74%.
At 68%, the census has also reported a higher literacy rate for disabled in urban areas than in rural areas (49%).
Also, the difference in the literacy rate between males and females is wider in rural than in urban areas.