New Delhi, Nov 10 (UNI) AICC Secretary Tom Vadakkan today called for immediate steps to remove the wide gap in the male-female ratio in education.
''In spite of significant progress since independence, the educational situation in India remains rather dismal even today.
In 2001, India had about one-third of the world's illiterates, almost 46 per cent and 35 per cent of its female and overall population in the seven plus age group respectively, that is 296.2 million people, '' he said while speaking at the valedictory of the four-day All India Association of Catholic Schools at the Don Bosco School here.
Mr Vadakkan said less than 11 per cent of students enrolled in grade-one passed a public examination. More than 80 per cent of students who failed in a board examination were in Mathematics and Science.
He said about half of the children between 6 and 14 (82.2 million) were not in schools and were engaged in caring cattles and tending the younger children or collecting firewood or doing menial jobs in restaurants and tea stalls.
''These children are thus denied their childhood. Even among those who started schools, about 39 per cent and 66 per cent still dropped out before class four and ten respectively,'' Mr Vadakkan said, adding that most of these dropouts were from the marginalised section of the society -- Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, various categories of OBCs and girls.
He said various factors such as poverty, caste, and gender discrimination, irrelevant education and lack of educational facilities were responsible for this ''dismal scenario''.