Bhutan’s literacy rate increased to 66 percent in the past five years, from 63 percent in 2012 according to the Bhutan Living Standards Survey (BLSS) 2017.
Youth (15-24 years) were the most literate group at 93 percent and it was 60 percent for adults (15 years and above).
Literacy rates were higher among the younger age groups and lowest for the older group of 65 years and above. About 43 percent of the population aged 6 years and above have not attended formal education, while only 6 percent have attended tertiary education. That makes differences in educational attainment levels between females and males.
A total of 47 percent of females had no education, compared with 36 percent of males and 5 percent of females have tertiary education compared with 8 percent of males.
A total of 59 percent of household heads had no formal schooling with the proportion higher in rural areas (73.6 percent) than in urban areas (31.5 percent).
Among persons 2 years and above, 45 percent had never attended a formal school, 28 percent had attended in the past and 27 percent were currently attending. Among the students aged 6 years and above, 99 percent were studying within Bhutan.
The proportion of students going abroad for study increases with increasing levels of education. About 30 percent are currently studying abroad at bachelor’s degree or higher level.
93 percent of the students attend public schools, but the proportion of students attending public school decreases at higher education levels. 67 percent of students attend public schools at higher secondary level compared with 96 percent at primary level. 25 percent of the students in the country reside in boarding facilities, 33 percent in rural and only 9 percent in urban areas. More than half (60.5 percent) of all students walk to school, while only 4 percent use public transport and another 7 percent use the family vehicle.
The Gross Attendance Ratio (GAR) and the Net Attendance Ratio (NAR) behave in a similar manner. They both decline with increasing educational levels.
GAR ranges from 107 percent at primary level to 75 percent at higher secondary level. Similarly, NAR ranges from 91 percent at primary level to only 34 percent at higher secondary level.
However, the adjusted NAR gives a more optimistic picture of school attendance. Adjusted NAR ranges from 97 percent at primary level to 77 percent at higher secondary level. Both primary and secondary school completion rates are estimated at 88 percent. The primary school completion rate is higher in rural areas, whereas secondary school completion rate is higher in urban areas.
There is a slight difference in literacy rates among male and female youth. About 60 percent of the adult population aged 15 years and above are literate. The literacy rate for male adults is 69 percent as compared to only 51 percent for female adults.
Likewise, there is a large difference in literacy rate between the urban and rural adults. The literacy rate in urban areas is 78 percent, whereas only 51 percent are literate in rural areas.
The literacy rate is substantially high in urban areas with 81.7 percent than in rural areas with 58.3 percent. There is also a marked difference in literacy rate between the male and female population both in urban and rural areas. About 73 percent of males are literate as compared to 59 percent of females.
Across all dzongkhags the general literacy rate ranges from 46 percent in Wangdue Phodrang to 85 percent in Bumthang. The general literacy rate is highest in Gelephu Thromde with 85.4 percent among the four Thromdes.
Bumthang has the highest adult literacy rate 81.6 percent, followed by Thimphu with 76.8 percent. About less than half of the adult population are literate in the three Dzongkhags of Trashigang (48.9 percent), Trashiyangtse (48.8 percent) and Wangdue Phodrang (42.4 percent).