Madhya Pradesh’s Alirajpur district has lowest literacy rate

April 1st, 2011 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, April 1 (IANS) Alirajpur district in Madhya Pradesh has given the state a cause for embarrassment. The district carries the “worst” literacy tag in country - of 37.22 percent, according to the Census 2011.

Madhya Pradesh’s literacy figure stands at 70.6 percent in comparison to India’s national literacy figure of 74.04 percent, according to the census figures presented in New Delhi. While the country’s literacy rate has grown by 10 percent in a decade, the state’s literacy has grown less than seven percent.

Alirajpur, carved out of the tribal district of Jhabua, has only 37.22 percent literacy rate in comparison to the national figure of 74.04 percent.

Alirajpur serves as the last signpost of Madhya Pradesh, bordering Gujarat.

The “lowest literacy” tag has not come as a surprise for non-government organisations and officials working in the region.

Rahul Banerjee, a former civil engineer with IIT Kharagpur and now working with Bhil tribals under the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath (KMCS), said large-scale migration to Gujarat was responsible for the poor state of education in Alirajpur.

“I am not at all surprised,” Banerjee said. “If 300,000 households migrate every year for about four to six months, how do they teach their children?” he asked.

Banerjee said both central and state governments had neglected livelihood issues such as agriculture and forestry. “Simply, there are no opportunities in Alirajpur other than brewing mahua and getting the NREGS (rural job scheme) dole whereas booming construction in Bharuch, Ahmedabad, Surat and Baroda in Gujarat provides lucrative jobs,” he added.

A study conducted by the KMCS has found that migrant labourers bring in between Rs.30 crore and Rs.40 crore a year to Alirajpur.

“It is a big paradox. Employment in Gujarat is depriving Bhil children of education in their home district. Maybe, nobody in Yojana Bhavan (the headquarters of the Planning Commission in New Delhi) knows that more and more money is detrimental to primary education.”

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, union Tribal Affairs Minister Kantilal Bhuria, who hails from Jhabua, and Madhya Pradesh Tribal Affairs Minister Ranjana Bhagel declined to comment, saying they would first ascertain the facts.

The figure of child sex ratio in the state is also down - from 932 in 2001 to 912 in 2011.

This means that for every 1,000 male children between the age of zero and 6 (0-6) years, only 912 girl children are being born and surviving.

This census revelation has also put the seal on malnutrition cases in the state where 59.8 percent children are underweight, and 9.4 percent children died under the age of 5 from hunger.

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