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According to the Education for All Report 2010,

• Human development indicators are deteriorating. An estimated 125 million additional people could be pushed into malnutrition in 2009 and 90 million into poverty in 2010.

• With poverty rising, unemployment growing and remittances diminishing, many poor and vulnerable households are having to cut back on education spending or withdraw their children from school.

• National budgets in poor countries are under pressure. Sub-Saharan Africa faces a potential loss of around US$4.6 billion annually in financing for education in 2009 and 2010, equivalent to a 10% reduction in spending per primary-school pupil.

• The number of children out of school has dropped by 33 million worldwide since 1999. South and West Asia more than halved the number of children out of school – a reduction of 21 million.

• The share of girls out of school has declined from 58% to 54%, and the gender gap in primary education is narrowing in many countries.

• Between 1985–1994 and 2000–2007, the adult literacy rate increased by 10%, to its current level of 84%. The number of adult female literates has increased at a faster pace than that of males.

• Malnutrition affects around 175 million young children each year and is a health and an education emergency.

• There were 72 million children out of school in 2007. Business as usual would leave 56 million children out of school in 2015.

• Literacy remains among the most neglected of all education goals, with about 759 million adults lacking literacy skills today. Two-thirds are women.

• Some 1.9 million new teacher posts will be required to meet universal primary education by 2015.

• In twenty-two countries, 30% or more of young adults have fewer than four years of education, and this rises to 50% or more in eleven sub-Saharan African countries.


According to Secondary Education in India: Universalizing Opportunity (2009), January, prepared by Human Development Unit, South Asia Region, The World Bank,


• On the supply side, four key constraints limit access to secondary education: (i) insufficient and uneven distribution of school infrastructure; (ii) lack of trained teachers and inefficient teacher deployment; (iii) suboptimal use of the private sector to expand enrollment capacity and to achieve social objectives; and (iv) insufficient open schooling opportunities for those who have left the formal system.

• There is a 40 percentage point gap in secondary enrollment rates between students from the highest and lowest expenditure quintile groups (70 percent versus 30 percent enrollment, respectively). In addition, there is a 20 percentage point gap between urban and rural secondary enrollment rates, and a persistent 10 percentage point gap between secondary enrollment rates of boys and girls. Enrollment of STs, SCs and Muslims is well below their share in the population at large.

• India’s gross enrollment rate (GER) at the secondary level of 40 percent is far inferior to the GERs of its global competitors in East Asia (average 70 percent) and Latin America (average 82 percent). Even countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, which have lower per capita incomes than India, have higher gross enrollment rates.

• At the lower secondary level (grades 9 and 10), the gross enrollment rate (GER) is 52 percent, while at the senior secondary level (grades 11 and 12) it is just 28 percent, for a combined GER of 40 percent (2005). In absolute terms, total secondary enrollment (lower and senior secondary) in 2004/05 was 37.1 million students, with 65 percent (24.3 million) in lower secondary and 35 percent (12.7 million) in senior secondary. It is estimated at over 40 million in 2008.

• Projections suggest an increase in absolute demand for secondary education between 2007/08 and 2017/18 of around 17 million students per year, with total enrollment growing from 40 to 57 million students.

• Wealthier children are more than twice as likely to be enrolled in secondary education as poor children. In some states (e.g. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh) there is more than a twenty-point percentage gap in enrollment between boys and girls. Secondary attendance of the general population is 80 percent higher than that for STs, SCs and Muslims. Finally, secondary enrollment by state varies greatly, from 22 percent in Bihar to 92 percent in Kerala; and from 4 percent in Jharkhand to 44 percent in Tamil Nadu at the senior secondary level. Such huge differences reflect, in part, a lack of central government involvement in secondary education to equalize opportunities, particularly in the poorer states.

• Secondary education currently accounts for less than a third of India’s total public spending on education, equivalent in absolute terms to about US$7.2 billion per year (less than 10 percent of this on investment). About 75 percent of the public spending on secondary education comes from the states, which spend less than 1 percent of their per capita incomes for this purpose. Compared with international benchmarks, India’s per student public spending on secondary education as a percentage of GDP per capita is somewhat high (27 percent, compared to a benchmark for fast-growing economies of 18 percent). India’s per-student public spending on secondary education is also high as a ratio of per student spending on primary education (2.9, compared to a benchmark for fast-growing economies of 1.4). On the other hand, by international standards, India’s per student spending on secondary education appears quite reasonable in absolute terms (average US$173, compared to spending per student in secondary education of US$577 in Latin America and the Caribbean, US$257 in Sub-Saharan Africa, and US$ 117 in South Asia). Public teacher salaries as a ratio of GDP/capita are 4:1 (private teacher salaries as a ratio of GDP/capita are 2.3:1).

• With current low levels of efficiency in India’s secondary schools, the estimated cost of producing a lower secondary graduate is high, at around Rs. 21,500 (about US$500 in 2005), or about Rs. 40,000 (US$911) for both levels of secondary education. Government schools spend less per student than private aided schools; approximately half of public funds in secondary education are spent through grants-in-aid to private schools, although these schools constitute just 30 percent of the total number.


The Annual Status of Education Report 2008 (Rural)


Percentage of children not in school is dropping. Bihar has done well

  • Nationally, the proportion of 7-10 year-olds not-in school is at 2.7%, and proportion of 11-14 year olds not in school is at 6.3%


  • All India proportion of 11 – 14 year old out of school girls remains steady at 7.3% over 2007 and 2008.


  • The percentage of out of school children in most states has decreased since 2007. UP and Rajasthan are exceptions.


  • In Bihar, children (6 – 14 year old) not on school have dropped steadily over the last four years from 13.1% in 2005 to 5.7% in 2008. Over the same period, the proportion of girls 11-14 not in school has dropped from 20.1% to 8.8%.

Enrollment in private schools is increasing

  • Among all 6-14 year olds, the proportion of children attending private schools has increased from 16.4% in 2005 to 22.5% in 2008. This increase in private school enrollment represents a 37.2 percent increase over the baseline of 2005. This increase is particularly striking in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.


  • In 2008, private schools have 20% more boys than girls in both age groups; 7-10 and 11-14.


  • Half of all school going children in Kerala and Goa go to private schools. (According to DISE, 95% of private schools in Kerala and 70% of private schools in Goa are government aided.)


  • Between 32% to 42% of all school going children In Nagaland, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan go to private schools. (DISE data indicates that In these states private schools are mostly unaided).

Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh show dramatic improvement in reading

  • Chhattisgarh has shown a dramatic improvement in children’s reading ability. The proportion of children in Std III who could read a Std I level text has increased from 31% in 2007 to 70% in 2008. The proportion of Std V children who could read a Std II level text in 2007 was 58% . By 2008, this figure had gone up to 75% in 2008. Reading levels in Chhattisgarh have improved dramatically across the board.


  • In Madhya Pradesh too, reading levels in 2008 show a big jump at every level over 2006, and 2007. With 86.8% government school children in Std V being able to read Std. II level text, Madhya Pradesh tops the ASER scale of reading among all states including Kerala and Himachal where 73-74% children in Std V can read a Std II text in government schools.


  • Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Himachal Pradesh are states that lead the country in terms of children’s basic reading fluency. In these states children who can read letters or more in Std I are over 85% and those who can read Std II text or more in Std V is over 75%.


  • Madhya Pradesh has achieved progress in two stages with the first jump coming in 2006 and the next in 2008.


  • Karnataka, and Orissa show a steady increase in proportion of children who can read from Std II to Std IV. Over 2006 to 2008, the reading levels recorded show about 5-6 percentage point improvement.


  • ASER has used essentially the same tool and the same method for four years.1 Barring some states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal, Andhra, and Chhattisgarh, no major change has been observed in basic reading in other states.

Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh show improvement in arithmetic also

  • ASER tests indicate that Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have made remarkable strides in improving basic math skills over the last year. In both states more than 91% children in Std I can identify numbers 1-9 or more. Although in Kerala this proportion is 96% in Std I, the highest literacy state loses its lead by Std III.


  • In Std III, the proportion of children in Madhya Pradesh who can solve at least a subtraction problem has jumped from 61.3% in 2007 to 72.2% in 2008, while Kerala is at 61.4%.


  • In 2008, 78.2% of children in Std V in Madhya Pradesh, could correctly solve a division problem. This is the highest recorded in the country. In several other states, this figure is around 60%; for example in Himachal, Chattisgaroh, Manipur and Goa.


  • In Chhattisgarh, the improvement in arithmetic is dramatic, indicative of a focused intervention. In 2008, Std II children who could identify numbers up to 100 or do higher level operations was at 77.8. This figure for Std II in 2007 was 37.2%. Similarly, those who could at least solve subtraction in Std III jumped from 21.8% in 2007 to 63.5% in 2008.

Telling time

  • 61% of children in Std V in India can tell time on a clock correctly.


  • In states such as UP, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, about 50% children in Std V can tell time. Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Haryana, J&K, Punjab, Uttarakhand are all above the national average.


  • In Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, where math and reading ability is recorded to be much better than the national average, more than 75% children in Std V can tell time.

 Other interesting findings from the survey

  • ASER (Rural) 2008 also explored village infrastructure and household characteristics to find links with education. The links will be explored later. However, here are some findings.


  • Primary schools are available within 1 km of 92.5% rural habitations and 67.1% villages have government middle school, and 33.8% have government secondary schools. Private schools are available in 45.6% Indian villages.


  • STD booths are present in 58.5% villages while 48.3% village households have a cell phone or a land line connection.


  • Electrical connections were available in 65.9% households surveyed.


  • Pukka road connects 71.9% villages to the outside world. Lowest numbers are Assam (32.7%), West Bengal (44.2%), Bihar (53.2%) and Madhya Pradesh (58.9%%) are states among the poorest connected states.

According to the Literacy and Levels of Education in India 1999-2000 of the 55th Round NSS, July 1999- June 2000:

  • In urban India, the proportion of literates was 798 out of 1000. Therefore, about one-fifth of the urban population was not literate. Among the literates, 325 persons (out of 798) attained education level secondary and above. This is much higher compared to rural India. Among the males, the literacy rate was as high as 865 out of 1000 while the same for females was about 72%.


  • In rural India, the literacy rate was the lowest for persons belonging to ST households (42%) followed by persons belonging to SC households (47%).  But in urban India, the literacy rate was the lowest for SC households (66%) followed by ST households (70%).  For both the sectors the literacy rate was the highest for persons belonging to social group ‘others'.   


  • The proportions of persons in each education level were lower for females than for males. The proportion of persons in any education level was an increasing function of monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) as in rural areas for each education level and also for both males and females.


  • In rural India, literacy rate per thousand was the highest (737) for household type ‘others' followed by self-employed in non-agriculture (630). The rate was the lowest (426) for agricultural labour households.  


  • Literacy rate in rural India is a very slowly increasing function of the area of land possessed for both males and females and so for all persons. For the lowest size class of land possessed the literacy rate of all persons was 52% while it was 64% for the highest size class of land possessed.


  • Literacy rate in rural India for males was much higher than that of females for any specified size class of land possessed, the differential being above 20 for different size classes.   


  • It is seen that the literacy rate was rather low for both males and females in rural India for ‘Islam' compared to other religions. ‘Hinduism' and ‘others' are not much better, especially for females.  In urban India, the literacy rate was 88-89% for males following three religions, namely, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Further, males who followed Christianity or Jainism had a still higher rate of literacy, 94% or more. Here also ‘Islam' shows a lower literacy rate. The picture is similar for females in urban areas.


  • In rural areas, gender disparity in literacy rate was very large for Hinduism and Islam, compared to other religions. The pattern was similar to some extent in urban areas, but here the gender disparities were generally smaller.


  • Among the rural areas of 15 major states, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh showed the highest increase in literacy rate for males and females over 1993-94 to 1999-2000.  The increase was by 9% for males and by 10% for females.  For females, there was one more major state, namely, Maharashtra, for which the increase in literacy rate was 10%. Among urban areas of the major states, the increase over 1993-94 to 1999-2000 was more than the national increase in urban areas of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.


  • Among the major States, the rural literacy rate for all persons was the highest in Kerala. It was around 90% in both the NSS rounds-50th and 55th. The second highest literacy rate among the rural areas of major States was found for Assam (69%). The rate was the lowest for Bihar (42%) followed by Andhra Pradseh (46%) and Rajasthan (47%). The literacy rate was also relatively low (between 50 and 60%) in the rural areas of the following States: Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.


  • In urban India, the literacy rate was distinctly low for casual labour households compared to other households. It was 59% (593 out of 1000) of persons belonging to casual labour households compared to the national average of 80%. For the remaining household types, the proportions of literates among males, females or persons were the highest for regular wage /salary earning households.  


  • In urban areas the variation of literacy rates across States/UT's was much smaller compared to the rural areas.  It ranged from 70% to 99% over the urban areas of different States and UTs while it varied from 42-91% in rural areas.  The urban literacy rate (%)was very high in Kerala (94), Meghalaya (92), Mizoram (99), Nagaland (94) and relatively low in Andhra Pradesh (75), Bihar (70), Orissa (76), Punjab (79) and Uttar Pradesh (70).   


  • Out of a total of 32 States and UTs, there were only 8 where the rural literacy rate was 80% and above.  These States and UTs were Goa, Kerala, Mizoram, Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Daman and Diu, Delhi and Lakshadweep.


  • At the national level, literacy rate (%) increased during the period from 1993-94 to 1999-2000.  For males, it increased from 63 to 68 in rural areas and from 85 to 87 in urban areas.  For females, the corresponding figures were 36 and 43 in rural areas and 68 and 72 in urban areas.  The figures for persons were 50 and 56 in rural areas and 77 and 80 in urban areas


  • At the national level, the difference in census and NSS estimates of literacy was 3% for both males and females.  For rural males, NSS literacy rate was 73% while census literacy rate was 76%.  Similarly, for females NSS estimate was 51% and the census estimate was 54%.


  • The difference in literacy rate between NSS 55th round and Census 2001 was roughly similar for males and females for any State/UT. For persons, the absolute difference in literacy rate was more than 5% in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa and Rajasthan and was less than 2% in Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.  

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