Talk to a politician or a bureaucrat about the fate of education he would immediately shift to literacy. He would like to emphasize that literacy picked up in the country during eighties and nineties. For the most of us it is difficult to calculate the number of educated people i.e., those who have studied at least up to higher secondary stage. But for the literate statistics are easily available. And who is considered literate in India? Even one who can write his name and read it is literate. There may be some who can read the headlines of newspaper or go through some lines of a religious book. Any way the statistics are quite deceptive and misleading. They are prepared by the field
workers to show their efficiency- if not in producing sizable number of really literate people at least in producing paper records in a sizeable number to please the people at helm of the fainters. Some of them may be
true. They are conscientious people everywhere though in small fraction.

Taking into consideration the records prepared, Kerala should be proud of having the largest number of literates in the country. It is 98% by the end of nineties. Kerala has been always known as country’s showcase state in Education. Southern states have always risen to the need of the hour so far as education is concerned. The 1991 census is a guide line for the difference between the advanced states and the backward ones in the Hindi belt. The national literacy rate shows 52% people in the age group of seven and above. The percentage could have been more if up, Rajasthan, Bihar and Arunachal Pradesh had crossed the line of 40 percent. When this 52% is quite encouraging to challenge the prediction UNICEF and. WHO that 100 crores illiterate – people will enter the 21st century of which 50 crores will be in India alone. Has India proved it wrong?

There are many disparities and deception too. The first is that many children are admitted to primary school but a large number does not attend the classes. The difference between the number admitted in class I and the higher classes make it clear that the rate of drop outs is very high. A large number is enrolled on paper only. The gross enrollment ratio for primary schools in Tamil Nadu is 135%. It is 86% in U.P., Gujarat, Meghalaya and Jammu Kashmir. These states and some others bring the percentage down while the southern states and union territories push it up.

The disparities between the urban and rural figures are glaring. Statistics show that 82% of six year old were at school in urban areas. While in the rural areas only 26% were at school. Urban areas have only 23% of the country’s population while, 50% of country’s higher secondary schools were in urban areas.

The difference between the literate boys and girls too is quite considerable. In urban areas 50% of girls and 55% of boys of the 6 plus age group where at school while in villages only 31% boys and equal number of girls in the same age group attended.

In December 1987 General Assembly of the UNO proclaimed 1990 as the international literacy year. On December 6, 1989 an impressive function was held at the UN head quarters in New York to launch the scheme. Although India too has kept pace with the global programme by increasing the number of literates from 324 million 1981 to 352 million in 1991. The 2.3% annual rate of population growth mass the achievement of the country on the literacy campaign too.