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Literacy Scenario in Odisha Home >> About us >> Literacy Scenario in Odisha
Odisha is the eleventh most populated state in India with a population of around 41 million according to 2011 census. Out of this 41 million, approximately 22% of the population is Scheduled tribes whereas scheduled castes are approximately 17% of the population. There are 62 scheduled tribes recognized in the state. These groups have limited access to basic services like education, health care and others.

The literacy rate in the state has seen an upward trend from the last census in 2001 and is about 73% (as per Census 2011), a figure that has improved tremendously in the last few years due to the consistent efforts of the government.


The literacy rates for males and females have seen a considerable jump from previous years. Male literacy stands at 81.59 percent while female literacy is at 62.46 percent. But, the gap between the male and female literacy levels is approximately 20% in 2011 which has come down from approximately 24% in 2001.This huge gap points to the fact that there is still a negative attitude towards girls’ education in the state.

(source: census 2011)

There are substantial gender disparities in literacy. In rural areas of Orissa, literacy rate for males and females stood at 79.65 % and 59.95 % which shows that there is a substantial gap as compared to their urban sisters. The gap between rural and urban male literacy has, however, been decreasing. The average literacy rate for rural areas in Orissa was 70.22 percent.

Talking specifically about SC and ST community as they form a majority of the population in the state of Odisha, the literacy rates are 69% for the SCs and 52.24% for the STs. The figures prove that the ST and SC communities fall behind the average literacy rate for the state with the STs at the lower rung. This difference is due to the social inequalities still prevailing in the social fabric of the state.

When we talk about the ST females and their literacy rates, the numbers have shown a remarkable difference over the years. Still, they are the least developed group as compared to the average literacy rates for the state.

Literacy Rates for Males and Females in SC and ST community in Odisha
Community Males Females
SC 79.21 58.76
ST 63.7 41.2
(Source: Census 2011)

The low literacy rates for the ST community is because of the fact that enrolment ratio decreases drastically after elementary education. As per Statistics of School Education (2010-2011), the Gross Enrollment ratio for elementary education was 114.1 which reduced to 42.1 in classes IXth and Xth. In case of girls, the situation worsens as per 100 boys enrolled in classes IXth and Xth, only 86 girls enroll in the same classes.

The other major factor is the high numbers of dropouts. The overall dropout rate declined from 63.5 percent in 2005-06 to 51.0 percent in 2010-11. But, the dropout rates for STs and SCs are still higher.


(Source: Economic Survey 2011-2012, Government of Odisha)

Odisha has done reasonably well on the literacy front and has committed higher resources to education in general. Still, a long distance has to be covered to do away with the various regional, social and gender disparities and provide an equal opportunity to all to have a literate and educated community. This is important as education is an imperative indicator which influences other development indicators including health, income, nutritional status and family welfare amongst others.
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