Sunil Kumar Barnwal
Former State Project Director
SAarva Shiksha Abhiyan
According to ‘Flash Statistics: Elementary Education in India and Progress Towards Universal Elementary Education (2006-07)’, released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) recently, Kerala continues to be a top achiever in composite rankings of primary and upper primary education, followed by Puducherry, Delhi and Tamil Nadu as toppers in providing elementary education. Bihar remains the state with the worst elementary education report card, while Jharkhand is second-last.
The report was based on a survey of 1.20 million schools spread over 609 districts across 35 states and union territories of India, and conducted by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) for the HRD ministry. The survey was based on the District Information System for Education (DISE) developed by NUEPA a few years ago.
“The efficiency of primary education system is directly related to the magnitude of the problem of illiteracy. So far as the school related information is concerned, the analysis should start from the indicators which give information regarding access. Information on access, should be followed by collection of information on infrastructural facilities available in a school/block/district. Other important information relate to schools need to be collected is enrolment and attendance pattern; and pattern of wastage and stagnation at different levels of schooling. While analysing efficiency of education system, different indicators of efficiency be computed separately for male/female, rural/urban, SC/ST/General population etc. so that they can help in identifying educationally weaker areas within a block/district.” Arun C Mehta, Professor Educational Management Information System, National University of Educational Planning and Administration (N U E P A)
The report tracks the progress of states towards universal elementary education at the primary and upper primary levels as well as the composite elementary level. Designed as an Educational Development Index (EDI) on which rankings are given based on 23 parameters.
The EDI has been developed keeping in mind four broad parameters—access, infrastructure, teacher related indicators and outcomes. The index takes into account 22 variables.
These variables include:
Access: percentage of habitations not served, availability of schools per 1000 population.
Infrastructure: average student-classroom ratio, school with student-classroom ratio greater than 60, school without drinking water facilities, schools with separate toilets for boys and girls as required.
Teachers: percentage of female teachers, pupil-teacher ratio, school with pupil-teacher ratio greater than 60, single-teacher schools-in schools with more than 15 students, percentage of schools with less than three or less teachers, teachers without professional qualification and
Outcome: gross enrolment ratio overall, scheduled castes: gross enrolment ratio, schedule tribes: gross enrolment ratio, gender parity index enrolment: repetition rate, drop-out rate, ratio of exit class over Class I enrolment-primary stage only, percentage of passed children to total enrolment, percentage of appeared children, passing with 60 per cent and above marks.
Though Kerala tops the combined ranking for both primary and upper primary, Delhi tops the EDI for primary sections. In primary, Delhi is followed by Puducherry and Kerala. West Bengal is placed at 30. For upper primary classes, Kerala is the topper, followed by Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
Bihar is the last in both the ranking, and Jharkhand is the second last in both.
Kerala had topped the chart in 2005-06 too, but this year Delhi has been replaced in the second position by Pudu-cherry in the composite ranking for both primary & upper primary. Delhi is third.
Delhi tops the EDI for primary education, followed by Puducherry and Kerala. Surprising to many would be the fact that West Bengal lags way behind, at 30 out of 35 states and union territories.
In 2005-06, Bengal ranked an abysmal 32 out of 35 states and union territories, with Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar behind it. Arunachal has now swapped places with Bengal while Uttar Pradesh — that ranked 31, just ahead of Bengal last year — has hoisted itself up to 26 in the rankings.For upper primary education, Kerala is the top-ranking state, followed by Puducherry, Tamil Nadu & Chandigarh.
However, Kerala too has its problems in school education, the report reveals. While the southern state is near the top in infrastructure, teaching and student performance, access to schools is poor at both the primary (34) and the upper primary (26) levels. And access at the upper primary level is worse than in overall low-ranking Bengal , for instance. It has also failed to enrol enough numbers of Muslims who comprise nearly 25% of the state’s population, in school.
The 2006-2007 survey had an additional indicator this year, focusing on Muslim enrolment at both the primary and upper primary levels. The figures for 2006-07 show that less than 10 percent Muslims enrolled in the primary classes.The report also contains the details of SC/ST enrolment and details of districts with significant minority population and educational backwardness.
Comprising nearly 13% of India’s population, Muslim enrolment at the primary school level (Class 1-5) was a meagre 9.39% of total enrolment figures for 2006-07, while at the upper primary level (Class 6-8) it was 7.52%. All over India, about 70% of Muslim children are enrolled in primary schools; the number falls to 56% at the upper primary level.
In Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry, 80% of Muslim children are enrolled in school. In Orissa, Muslims make up only 2.07% of the population but total enrolment of primary and upper primary Muslims make up 7.26% and 6.48% respectively. In Karnataka, there is 13.54% enrolment of Muslims in the primary and 12.39% in the upper primary levels.
For Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, there is a higher enrolment percentage of Muslims in the upper primary level than in primary school. This could mean either that fewer numbers of Muslims are entering the school system than before or that Muslims’ share in the population is decreasing in these states and that this is being reflected in the enrolment figures.
States of particular concern are Kerala, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Assam that have sizeable Muslim populations but
very low levels of Muslim enrolment
The survey shows that the community’s access to education is poor even in states where it has a large presence, like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Kerala. Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and, to an extent, West Bengal are the only exceptions.
Kerala has a 24.7% Muslim population but enrolment figures for the community are abysmal – a mere 10.13% at the primary level and 9.59% at the upper primary level.
In Jammu and Kashmir , where Muslims comprise 66.97% of the population, enrolment of Muslims is 62.52% at the primary level and 60.55% in upper primary classes. And in Assam , with a 30.92% Muslim population, the community’s enrolment percentage in primary schools is a laudable 30.42% but falls significantly at the upper primary level, to 17.39%.
Orissa plays poor in EDI variables
As revealed by Flash Statistics: Elementary education in India : Progress towards UEE-2006-07, Orissa finishes a poor performer in almost all the variables – access, infrastructure, teachers and outcomes – taken to measure the Education Development Index (EDI) of the State. In 2006-07, the State recorded a dip in two parameters like access and outcomes in the primary level and in three – access, teachers and outcomes – in the upper-primary level.
In 2006-07, when nationally 6,000 more teachers have been appointed, Orissa shed 8,500. As a result, the EDI for primary slid to 0.529 and from the 29th rank in 05-06 settled at 30th out of a total of 35. Similarly, with 0.445 score in EDI for upper primary, the State figured at 32 down two from 2005-06. The State has recorded a steep fall by 21 places in the parameter of outcome, whereas in variables like accessibility it slid by four places.
Interestingly, when Orissa has Government to private school ratio at 94:6, Kerala, the top achiever, has a proportion of 42:58. When Orissa has approximately 52,000 schools in 30 districts, AP has over 1 lakh in only 23 districts. The teachers per school in Kerala hovers above 4 but it is below 3 in Orissa. Similarly, when average number of classrooms is around three in Orissa, it is over six in Kerala.It is a relative ranking, to see the state Jharkhand ranked second last in the EDI. The State is struggling with issues like school infrastructure, providing more school buildings and other facilities, providing quality education, etc. Addressing these issues and showing the progress can just not be the reflection of one year. Over a period of time such infrastructure have been created,; similarly progress in some other area can be made over a period. It’s a cumulative reflection, which cannot be reflected in the
If States like Tamil Nadu or Gujarat are able to do away with these infrastructure issues, they are concentrating more on the quality issues. Jharkhand also does that. But we are continuously facing challenges on the front of some of these basic educational issues like infrastructure and quality. Just one year period cannot reverse the index, even if we progress on anything. Of course it can be improved, depending on the comparative improvement of other states. The EDI is done for all 35 states. When we try to improve, the other states are also equally improving. For improving the relative index, one needs to do it in a much faster pace. Unless we address our basic issues, that pace will probably not come.
Technology, of course, can help a lot in adding quality to education. Student today find it much more interesting and fun reading in a multimedia or an IT enabled environment. This trend helps in bringing down the drop out rates.
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