As per the 2001 census, Karnataka had a literacy rate of 67.04%, with 76.29% of males and 57.45% of females in the state being literate. The state is home to some of the premier educational and research institutions of India such as the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Institute of Management, the National Institute of Technology Karnataka and the National Law School of India University.
As of March 2006, Karnataka had 54,529 primary schools with 252,875 teachers and 8.495 million students, and 9498 secondary schools with 92,287 teachers and 1.384 million students. There are three kinds of schools in the state, viz., government-run, private aided (financial aid is provided by the government) and private unaided (no financial aid is provided). The primary languages of instruction in most schools are Kannada and English. The syllabus taught in the schools is either of the CBSE, the ICSE or the state syllabus (SSLC) defined by the Department of Public Instruction of the Government of Karnataka. However, some schools follows NIOSsyllabus. The State has one Sainik School in Bijapur also.
In order to maximize attendance in schools, the Karnataka Government has launched a mid-day meal scheme in government and aided schools in which free lunch is provided to the students. Statewide board examinations are conducted at the end of the period of secondary education and students who qualify are allowed to pursue a two-year pre-university course; after which students become eligible to pursue under-graduate degrees.
There are 481 degree colleges affiliated with one of the universities in the state, viz. Bangalore University, Gulbarga University, Karnatak University, Kuvempu University,Mangalore University and Mysore University. In 1998, the engineering colleges in the state were brought under the newly formed Visvesvaraya Technological Universityheadquartered at Belgaum, whereas the medical colleges are run under the jurisdiction of the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences. Some of these baccalaureate colleges are accredited with the status of adeemed university. There are 186 engineering, 39 medical and 41 dental colleges in the state. Udupi, Sringeri, Gokarna and Melkote are well-known places of Sanskrit and Vedic learning. An Indian Institute of Technology Muddenahalli has been approved by the central government as part of the 11th 5 year plan. This will be the first IIT in Karnataka State. In addition, a 600 crore Visvesvaraya Institute of Advanced Technology (VIAT) is being constructed in Muddenahalli-Kanivenarayanapura.
Tulu Language is taught as an optional subject in the twin districts of South Canara and Udupi.