Of India’s 1.3 billion people, only 61 percent are literate which means a quarter of all men and half of all women cannot read or write – the highest number of illiterates in the world. Only sub-Saharan Africa comes close in comparison. There are more illiterate people in India than the people of America and Great Britain combined.
India’s education program is falling behind other nations and is alarmingly dismal at the grass-root level. Due to various social and economic problems India’s education programs are besieged with many issues and the biggest victims are the children living in the rural areas. Overall enrollment in primary and middle schools is very low - 50% of the children living in these areas drop out of school before they are ten years old. These children leave school for many reasons – need to support the family by working, lack of interest, low quality of education, poor school infrastructure, child marriages - among other reasons.
As these children grow into adults, many are still illiterate and never get an education. These uneducated adults are reluctant to send their own children to school which creates a vicious circle where the whole section of the community remains uneducated. Allocation of government funds, conditions of the destitute rural schools, lack of good quality and qualified teachers who are willing to teach in rural India are fundamental problems that contribute to the low education quality in these regions. The use of high-tech devices such as computers are very rare in rural Indian schools and most of them operate without basic infrastructure like books, boards, classrooms, toilets, drinking water facility and electricity.
All these factors directly affect the future of the children in rural India and the continuing struggle of people fighting to move above the poverty line. Considering historic patterns of literacy growth across the world, India may account for a majority of the world's illiterates by 2020.
It is high time we do something about this.