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International Literacy Day 2020

International Literacy Day 2020


September 8 marks the celebration of International Literacy Day.

  • Theme: ‘Literacy teaching and learning in the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.’


  • At the 14th session of UNESCO’s general conference in 1966, the first-ever International Literacy Day was declared and since then it has been celebrated annually on September 8 with an objective to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals and communities around the world.

Literacy at the global level:

  • About 775 million adults lack the minimum education that is required to be literate and of those, 60.7 million children are out of school or are rare attendees.
  • According to the UNESCO’s ‘Global Monitoring Report on Education for All’ (2006), South Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate, at 58.6%, and the causes for this illiteracy range from severe poverty and the prejudice against women.

Literacy in India:

  • Definition: A person aged seven and above who can both read and write with understanding in any language, is treated as literate.
    • A person, who can only read but cannot write, is not literate. In the Censuses prior to 1991, children below 5 years of age were treated as illiterates.
    • It was decided at the 1991 Census that all children in the age group 0-6, would be treated as illiterate by definition and the population aged seven years and above only would be classified as literate or illiterate.
    • The same criterion has been retained in the Censuses of 2001 and 2011. Further, a person need not receive any formal education or acquire any minimum qualification to be treated as literate.


  • According to the National Statistical Office (NSO) survey, Kerala has once again emerged as the most literate state in the country (96.2 %)
  • Andhra Pradesh featured at the bottom with a rate of 66.4 %.

The report on ‘Household Social Consumption:

  • Education in India as part of the 75th round of National Sample Survey – from July 2017 to June 2018’ provides for state-wise detail of literacy rate among the persons aged seven years and above.
    • According to the study, after Kerala, Delhi has the best literacy rate at 88.7 %, followed by Uttarkhand’s 87.6 %, Himachal Pradesh’s 86.6 %, and Assam’s at 85.9 %
    • Rajasthan is the second-worst performer with a literacy rate of 69.7%, followed by Bihar at 70.9 %, Telangana at 72.8%, Uttar Pradesh at 73 %, and Madhya Pradesh at 73.7 %
    • The study has pegged the overall literacy rate in the country at about 77.7 %. In rural areas, the literacy rate is 73.5 % compared to 87.7 % in urban areas of the country.
  • At the all-India level, the male literacy rate is higher at 84.7 % compared to 70.3 % among women.
  • The survey showed that the male literacy rate is higher than the female literacy rate among all states. In Kerala, the male literacy rate is 97.4 % compared to 95.2 % among females. 

Source: Indian Express