Bhutan Achieved 93% Youth Literacy Rate

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.

Bhutan Achieved 93% Youth Literacy Rate (Source:


Bhutan’s literacy rate increased to 66 percent in the past five years, up 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).

Statistics by gender and age

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.

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. That makes the differences in educational attainment levels between females and 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 age 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 school. Among the students aged 6 years and above, 99 percent are 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.

Attendance levels of school

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.

Comparison between dzongkhags

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 at 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).


By Kinley Yonten (This article has been edited for the New Bhutan Times)

This article first appeared on The Bhutanese.

Related Posts

Education ministry to recruit 316 graduates on contract

A total of 316 teachers have left the teaching profession between January and July this year. In absence of teachers in...

Aug 26, 2017 16:52

Bhutan’s Possible Collaboration with the Finnish Education System

Finland is the top ranked nation for high quality education. It is also known as the top-ranking nation in the Programme...

Nov 02, 2017 10:35

Education Ministry Working on Providing Lunch in All Schools

There are 301 schools under the school-feeding programme out of which 147 schools provide three meals a day while 154...

Dec 10, 2017 10:23

Project Kadinchey Helped Raised Funds for a School in Bhutan

The travellers experienced first-hand the harsh conditions that the primary school students had to put up with daily....

Nov 21, 2017 08:13

43 Bhutanese Receive Australian Government Scholarships

The 43 Bhutanese awardees come from various sectors and were selected on the basis of their potential to help build...

Nov 25, 2017 10:03

30 Books Written by Children Released

Under the programme ‘Children Writing for Children,’ students between the ages of 12 to 16 from Zhemgang worked with...

Nov 09, 2017 17:40



Bhutan Ranks 97th in World Happiness Report

The report, which is created by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, is based on factors like per capita GDP, social support,...

Mar 16, 2018 21:48

Bhutan reports outbreak of H5N1 bird flu at Samdrup Jongkhar: Report

The flu outbreak killed free-ranging birds reared within a temple complex in Samdrup Jongkhar.

Mar 15, 2018 09:32


Bhutanese Journal of Agriculture Launched

The journal is published by the Agriculture Research and Extension Division of the Department of Agriculture and will be now an annual...

Mar 18, 2018 22:31

Conserving Traditional Bhutanese Architecture

“The old buildings are important as a testimony of the past. It is not only important to preserve these houses, but also to encourage the...

Mar 15, 2018 11:47


Bhutan out of ASEAN Women’s T20 Open Tournament

Bhutan had the chance of finishing among the top three teams with a total of three points after playing four matches. At the finals,...

Mar 14, 2018 17:22

National Cricket Team Wins First International Title

The National cricket team defeated Thailand by three runs in the finals to win the championship. A total of four countries China, Bhutan,...

Mar 02, 2018 18:14


Bhutan National Start-Up Weekend Begins

The MoIC Minister DN Dhungyel said that there is a need to change the expectations of youth who thinks that the government is the main...

Mar 17, 2018 12:05

400 More Power Tillers to be Distributed

“The Agriculture Ministry not only procures the power tillers, but they follow-up by making sure that people are trained and machines are...

Mar 11, 2018 22:36


Nyungne - A Fascinating Winter Ritual

“Winters can get real desolate here and nyungne is the only festival that makes the place lively,” he said. “It was so good to see everyone...

Mar 10, 2018 21:25

Pilgrimage to Beyul Langdra - The Hidden Treasure of the Bull Cliff

It is believed that Guru Rinpoche had hidden more than 60 sacred treasures in and around the cliff to be discovered by prophesied treasure...

Feb 24, 2018 13:16


Singaporean director crowdfunds for documentary on uncovering Bhutan's 'secret to happiness'

Singaporean director Loretta Chen is looking to raise US$25,000 for a film project on Bhutan.

Mar 15, 2018 22:02

Prayer Rosaries of Bhutan

Rosaries are an important religious artefact in Bhutan. People spend large amounts of money to acquire good rosaries, and some rosaries are...

Mar 12, 2018 20:24

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!