The literacy rates are lower than the national average in eleven states namely Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, as per Census 2011. Various factors viz. poverty, gender and social inequities, etc. are impeding literacy in the country.
Saakshar Bharat, a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Adult Education and Skill Development, was launched on 8th September, 2009 and brought to implementation with effect from 1st October, 2009. The rural areas of all those districts that had adult female literacy rate of 50 per cent or below as per Census, 2001 and left-wing extremism-affected districts, irrespective of their literacy rate, are eligible for coverage under the Programme. 385 out of 410 eligible districts in 25 States and one Union Territory have been covered, so far. The principal target of the programme is to impart functional literacy to 70 million non-literates, including 60 million women. About 28.4 million learners, including 20.4 million females, have successfully passed the biannual assessment tests, conducted so far.
The Government has enacted ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009’ (RTE) for universalization of elementary education in the age group of 6-14 years and launched Saakshar Bharat to enhance the literacy level in the age group of 15 years and above. A target has been set to raise the literacy levels to 80 per cent and reduce the gender gap to 10 percentile points, besides bridging regional disparities, by the end of XII Five Year Plan.
This was stated by the Union HRD Minister, Smt. Smriti Irani in a written reply to the Lok Sabha question today.