Over 300 million people in India are illiterate — one of the largest populations in the world — and among the more than 130 million children in primary schools, over half are not able to read and write at their grade levels. Yet, a literate, and in today’s times, a digitally literate population, is key to India's development and economic empowerment.
Is it really impossible to realize this dream? To have an India where every child reads and writes at their grade level and every individual is literate?
Room to Read India's Literacy Program is the country's only children’s education program that develops both literacy skills and reading habits. Our Girls’ Education Program supports girls to finish secondary school and works with government stakeholders to advocate for girls' education.
Of all the world’s illiterate people, 36 percent live in India, and research shows this number could rise to 50 percent by 2020. Despite recent economic growth, India still lacks many basic resources needed to educate its people. India has made great strides in improving access to education in the past decade and schools are free and compulsory from ages 6 to 14. But inadequate facilities, lecture-based curricula, and gender bias have contributed to 19.8 percent of children dropping out before completing primary school. From 2009-2010, an estimated 8.15 million children were not enrolled in school, according to the Ministry of Human Resource and Development.
Only 30 percent of Indians speak Hindi, and 21 other languages have official status—including English. This linguistic diversity has made developing statewide education standards difficult. Furthermore, many Indians’ access to education and other opportunities are still predetermined by their gender and social status at birth; of the nearly half of all students who drop out before secondary school, most are girls from disadvantaged castes and tribes. And as 47 percent of girls in India marrying before age 18 according to the ICRW, many girls to drop out.
Second grade students in Literacy Program schools in India read more than 3 times as fast as students in nearby control schools.
Of the 2014 Girls' Education Program graduates in India, 84% enrolled in tertiary education the next year.