Literacy in India is increasing at a sluggish rate of 1.5 per cent per year, says a recent report of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). The good news is the rate of increase in literacy is higher in villages than in cities.
India's average literacy rate is pegged at 65.38 percent.
"As compared to 2004-05, the literacy rate increased by two percent for the rural populace and one percent in urban areas during 2005-06," says the report.
It says there were 656 literate men out of 1,000 in India's villages in 2005-06, compared to 636 in 2004-05. During that year, the number of literate village women went up from 450 to 467 per 1,000.
In cities, 816 men and 702 women out of every 1,000 were literate in 2005-06, compared to 805 men and 693 women out of 1,000 in 2004-05, the NSSO survey found.
An official of NSSO said the yardstick adopted to decide whether a person was literate was his or her ability to read and write a simple message in any language with understanding.
The literacy rate for people aged seven and above was found to be 68 percent in 2005-06, compared to 67 percent in 2004-05.
The report says that during 2005-06, "the literacy rate for males was 74 percent as compared to only 52 percent for females in the rural areas with regard to the population aged seven and above."
At the national level overall, 683 people aged seven and above were found to be literate out of every 1,000 in 2005-06 as against 673 in 2004-05, a one per cent increase.
For this study, the NSSO, an agency under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, had surveyed 78,879 households, out of which 37,975 were in villages.
"As regards the actual number of persons surveyed, 186,571 and 190,806 were from the rural and urban areas respectively," an NSSO official said.