Census Numbers Tell a Dismal Story for Children with Disabilities

Discrepancies between education levels of the general population and the disabled population need to be addressed, alongside rural-urban discrepancies.

Inclusive Media for Change, in a report about education among people with disabilities found that it the level of education was far lower among the disabled than it was among the general population. The data, substantiated from Census 2011, claims that only 54.5% of disabled children aged seven years and above were literate, which in a total disabled population of 2.68 crore, comes to about 1.46 crore literate. The number however includes children aged 0-6 years who have been included in the category of ‘illiterate’ since Census 1991, Inclusive Media for Change clarified.

Male literacy among the disabled or the differently-abled is 62.4%, while the female literacy is 44.6%, in a country where the overall literacy is 74%. Literacy rates also differ vastly depending on space: rural areas reportedly have 48.9% among the disabled population while urban areas have 67.3%. The overall literacy rates for rural and urban areas, according to Census 2011, is 68.9% and 85% respectively.

Literacy rate is highest among those persons with disabilities in movement among the various categories within the disabled population.

Table 1: Status of education among disabled population during Census 2011

Table 1 Status of education among disabled population during Census 2011

Source: Table C-29 Disabled Population by type of disability, educational level and sex – 2011 (India & States/UTs), Census 2011

Nearly 3.4% of the female disabled population and 5.6% of the male disabled population, Inclusive Media for Change says, are graduates. A similar rural-urban discrepancy can be found in the numbers listing disabled persons with the educational qualification of ‘graduate and above’, where the urban population number is 10.2 percent and the number for rural areas is only 2.2%.

A report by the ministry of human resource Development, Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy 2016, points out that disabled children form a significant part of out-of-school children. The parliamentary standing committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill (2014) has recommended that upper age limit for free education for disabled children be raised from 18 years to 21 years.