Hindus continue to have the lowest level of educational attainment among all the major religions of the world despite having made strides in the sector, a Pew study said on Wednesday.
“Hindus have made substantial educational gains in recent decades. Hindu adults (ages 25 and older) in the youngest generation analysed in the study, for example, have an average of 3.4 more years of schooling than those in the oldest generation,” Pew said.
However, Hindus still have the lowest level of educational attainment of any major religious group in this study, which is topped by Jews.
Globally, the average is 5.6 years of schooling, and 41% of Hindus have no formal education of any kind. One in ten have post-secondary degrees, the report said.
At the same time, despite large gains by Hindu women across generations, Hindus still have the largest educational gender gap of any religious group, said the report titled ‘Religion and Education Around the World Large’ released by Pew Research Center.
In its report, running into 160 pages, Pew said Jews are more highly educated than any other major religious group around the world, while Muslims and Hindus tend to have the fewest years of formal schooling.
Drawing on census and survey data from 151 countries, the study also finds large gender gaps in educational attainment within some major world religions.
“For example, Muslim women around the globe have an average of 4.9 years of schooling, compared with 6.4 years among Muslim men. And formal education is especially low among Hindu women, who have 4.2 years of schooling on average, compared with 6.9 years among Hindu men,” the report said.
“On average, Hindu men have 2.7 more years of schooling than Hindu women, and just over half of Hindu women (53%) have no formal schooling, compared with 29% of Hindu men,” the report said, adding that even in the youngest generation of adults in the study, Hindu women are considerably more likely than Hindu men to have received no formal education (38% vs 20%).
The vast majority of the world’s Hindus live in India (94%) or in the bordering countries of Nepal (2.3%) and Bangladesh (1.2%).
“In these three countries, Hindus tend to have low levels of education; in India, Hindus average 5.5 years of schooling, while in Nepal and Bangladesh they average 3.9 and 4.6 years, respectively,” Pew said.
“However, in countries outside the Asia-Pacific region, where Hindus are a small religious minority, they are much more highly educated – and often are the most highly educated religious group in a particular country,” the report noted.
For instance, Hindus in the US have 15.7 years of schooling, on average – a full year more than the next most highly educated US religious group (Jews), and nearly three years more than the average American adult (12.9 years).
Hindus in Europe also are highly educated, averaging 13.9 years of schooling, Pew said.