The most important and effective measure in bringing out economic progress of a country is literacy. It is a hard fact that modern high technological processes and applications are not possible without proper education and training. In other words, we can say that one of the most important reasons of backwardness and ignorance is the, illiteracy among majority of population especially in rural area of the country.
According to census data of 1951, 1961, 1971, 1991, the percentage of literate people was 16.6, 24.0, 29.5 and 52.11 only. It rose to 74.3 percent in 2000-01. The male literacy was 63.86 percent and female literacy was 39.42 percent during 1991. During 2000-01, literacy rate for male female was registered to be 65.38 per cent respectively.
The State of Kerala tops with 90.59 per cent and Rajasthan and Bihar had 38.81 and 38.54 percent literacy rate. From the above data, it will be clear that there has been 3 times increase in literacy since 1951 to 1991, but a very high percentage of population i.e. 48 percent is still illiterate.
The female literacy in Kerala was 86.93 percent as against 20.84 percent in Rajasthan according to 1991 census. Moreover, it was found that female literacy of rural population was only 25.25 percent as against 53.93 percent of urban population. As such, out of total illiterate population, more than 48 percent are females.