Lower castes take rapid strides to close literacy gaps

Elaine Watkins —  November 10, 2013
Reference: SC = Scheduled Castes & ST = Scheduled Tribes (all part of lower castes)

The literacy rate among scheduled castes and tribes remains well below the rest of India’s population, but the gap has closed significantly in the last decade. During this period (2001-2011), ST and SC women made the most rapid progress, latest census data reveals.

Data released earlier this week shows a 14.6 percentage point increase in literacy among ST and SC women over the decade, compared to a jump of 10 percentage points for non-SC/ST women. The literacy rate of ST men and SC men has jumped by 9.4 and 8.5 percentage points, respectively, compared to just 4.8 percentage points among non-SC/ST men.

The pattern of SC and ST women showing a higher increase in literacy holds good across almost all states, and in both rural and urban areas. Of course, the base was very low to start with in the case of both women and men in the two communities, compared to the general population.

In the case of ST women, the literacy rate was a shockingly low 34.8% in 2001 from where it jumped to almost 50%. The literacy rate of SC women, about 42% in 2001, increased to 56.5% in 2011. Among ST males, the literacy rate went from 59.2% to 68.5% by 2011 and among SC males it went up from 66.6% to 75.2% in the same period.

The most remarkable improvement has been among ST women in Tripura, where the literacy rate jumped from 44.6% all the way to 71.6%, which is significant considering that STs make up almost a third of the state’s population. Bihar, with around 16% of its population comprising SCs, shows the biggest increase in literacy among SCs – a jump of 20.2 percentage points, from 28.5% in 2001 to 48.6% in 2011.

There are some states where the increase in literacy rate among STs is well below the achievement at the national level, though the general pattern of STs and SCs showing better progress than the general population holds true. For instance, in rural Chhattisgarh, the increase in literacy among STs was just 6.6 percentage points compared to the national level change in rural literacy of 9 percentage points. Among rural SCs in Chhattisgarh too, the improvement in literacy (6.5 percentage points) is less than the national level improvement. However, it is higher than the state’s overall improvement of 5.5 percentage points. It is a similar story in rural Rajasthan.

Many of the states with high literacy rates, such as Kerala and Mizoram, show smaller improvement in literacy. This is expected, once states hit literacy levels as high as 85% and more. However, in these states too the SCs and STs show greater improvement in literacy rate than others put together.


(We didn’t write it, but sure thought it was worth reading.)

Here’s the source: The Times of India