Access to Schools and Literacy: Evidence from Rural India
In India, the total public expenditure on education as ratio of GDP has increased graduallyfrom 0.64 percent in 1951-52 to 4.13 percent in 2013-14. Subsequently, the access to education facilities has improved significantly as the number of villages with primary school has increased from 72% in 1991 to 79% in 2001 and further to 83% in 2011. Using geocoded data of all Indian villages and panel data of two census rounds of 2001 and 2011, we study how the literacy rate is associated with access to schools in all and in minority dominated villages. We find that the presence of primary, and middle schools (an indicator of advanced level of education) is positively associated with overall and female literacy rate. The association with the primary schools is higher. In case of villages without schools, literacy rate declines as the distance to the nearest school increases. Villages with minority population may be discriminated for school availability which may further lead to disparities in educational outcomes (Bailwal and Paul, 2021). We find that the minority dominated villages respond differently to the availability of educational facilities. Despite similar access to schools in the neighbourhood as that of all villages, a minority dominated village -without a school has no association with either distance to schools or with total availability of schools in the neighbourhood. This is starkly different from other villages.