India has highest number of illiterate adults, says Unesco

India has highest number of illiterate adults, says Unesco

A Unesco report released on Wednesday says that with its 287 million, India has the largest percentage -37 per cent - of global illiterate adult population.

“It leaves one in four young people in poor countries unable to read a single sentence, affecting one-third of young women in South and West Asia,” says the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2013-14. The countries include Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

“India’s literacy rate rose from 48 per cent in 1991 to 63 per cent in 2006 (the latest year for which data are available), but population growth cancelled the gains. So there was no change in the number of illiterate adults," the report says.

The report says that without attracting and adequately training enough teachers, the learning crisis will “last for several generations and hit the disadvantaged the hardest”The report points out that about 10 per cent of global spending on primary education is being lost on poor quality education that is failing to ensure that children learn.

It says that despite the fact that India “faces huge challenges in improving the quality of its education,” it spent only “10 per cent of its government budget on education in 2011, a reduction from 13 per cent in 1999.” The report has emphasised that the country badly needs narrowing of literacy gap to reduce gender bias in politics and ensure women’s participation in it.  

“Average literacy over the period was 34 per cent for women and 55 per cent for men. It is estimated that raising the female literacy rate to 42 per cent may increase the share of female candidates by 16 per cent, the share of votes obtained by women candidates by 13 per cent and female voter turnout by 4 per cent,” says the report.

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