Case Study: Comparing Best & Worst State Performances in Education with reasons.

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Context: The National Credit Framework (NCrF) is a well-thought-out move of the Central government toward enhancing the employability of our students from their school days. It is in sync with the new National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020), which focuses on creating and facilitating a holistic and multi-disciplinary learning mechanism right from the primary to the tertiary level.

Relevance: Prelims- Current Affairs of National and International Importance.
Mains: GS-2; Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, and Human Resources.

Case Study: Comparing Best & Worst State Performances in Education with reasons. 

State of School Education in India:

The Indian School Education System is one of the largest in the world with more than 15 lakh schools, nearly 97 lakh teachers, and more than 25 crore students from varied socioeconomic backgrounds.

The schemes initiated by the Department of School Education and Literacy(DoSEL) along with the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act have significantly improved accessibility. As a logical next step, the focus has shifted from access to quality education. DoSEL, therefore, has designed the Performance Grading Index (PGI) to catalyze transformational change in the field of school education.

Performance Grading Index:

  • The PGI for the States and union territories (UTs) was first published in 2019 for the reference year 2017-18. The PGI for the reference year 2018-19 was published in the year 2020. The present publication, PGI 2019-20 at State/UT level, has been prepared with the same set of 70 parameters used for the two previous PGIs.
  • The PGI is expected to help States and UTs to pinpoint the gaps and accordingly prioritize areas for intervention to ensure that the school education system is robust at every level. At the same time, it is expected to act as a good source of information for best practices followed by States and UTs which can be shared.
  • The PGI evaluation provides grades to the States and UTs, as opposed to ranking. Grading, by allowing several States and UTs to be considered at the same level, eliminates the phenomenon of one improving only at the cost of others, thereby casting a stigma of underperformance on the latter, though, in effect, they may have maintained the status quo or even done better than earlier.
  • The information on the indicators is drawn from data available from the Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+), the National Achievement Survey (NAS)of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), Mid-Day Meal (MDM)website, Public Financial management system (PFMS) and the Shagun portal. These portals have been created and maintained by the DoSEL, MoE.
  • Methodology:
    • The PGI is structured in two categories, namely, Outcomes and Governance & Management comprises 70 indicators in aggregate with a total weightage of 1000.
    • The total weightage under the PGI is 1000 points with each of the 70 indicators having an assigned weightage of either 10 or 20 points. For some of the indicators, there are sub-indicators. In these sub-indicators,the total points of the indicator have been distributed among these sub-indicators.
    • Weightage against each indicator has been divided into 10 groups: 0, 1-10, 11-20 and so on up to 91-100. Thus, a State which has achieved 91% of the benchmark of an indicator will get maximum points(10 or 20, whichever is applicable for the particular indicator). However, in the case of a few Indicators, a lower value would score higher weightage, e.g. equity indicators, time taken for the release of funds, and single-teacher schools. For Equity Indicators, a difference of ‘O’ (zero) between different categories has been considered as the best performance and the absolute value of the difference has been considered for grading.

Summary of the Findings:

  • Punjab, Chandigarh, Tamil Nadu, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Kerala occupy the highest grade (Grade A++) for 2019-20. Ladak is the worst performer.
  • Most of the States/UTs have improved their grade in PGI 2019-20 compared to the earlier years.
  • Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Puducherry, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu have improved their overall PGI scores by 10%, i.e., 100 or more points.
  • Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, and Punjab have shown improvement by 10% (8 points) or more in the PGI domain: Access.
  • As many as thirteen States and UTs have shown improvement by 10% (15 points) or more in the PGI domain: Infrastructure and Facilities. Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Odisha have shown improvement by 20% or more. 
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Odisha have shown more than 10% improvement in the PGI domain: Equity.
  • Nineteen States and UTs have shown improvement by 10% (36 points) or more in the PGI domain: Governance Process. Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, Rajasthan, and West Bengal have shown improvement by at least 20% (72 points or more).

  • Inter-state Differential: On a maximum possible of 1000 points, the range between the States and UTs with the highest and the lowest score is more than 380 points in the year 2019-20.
  • Best Achievers vis-a-vis the ultimate goal: For the first time in 2019-20 five states reached level 2(Score 901-950).
  • Size vis-a-vis Performace: The performance of a state is often perceived to be directly linked with its size as it has a direct bearing on logistics, administration, and other issues. But this is not true as Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu,  which are in the top level (Grade I++), are ranked 29th, 35th, 23rd, 20th, and 10th respectively in terms of their geographical size among states/UTs. Similarly, the States which are grades IV, V, and VII, are ranked 17th (Ladakh),24th (Meghalaya), 26th (Nagaland), 14th(Arunachal Pradesh), and 9th (Chhattisgarh)respectively in terms of geographical size.
  • Population vis-a-vis Performance: Population sometimes may be construed as a hindrance to development as it tends to increase the financial outlays for interventions by the Government. In terms of population size, the Level 2/Grade I++ States and UTs are 33rd (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), 31st (Chandigarh), 13th (Kerala), 16th (Punjab), and 6th (Tamil Nadu). The population ranking of five States namely Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, which are in Grades 4 or below, are 28th, 35th, 24th, and 26th respectively. Hence, the effect of population on the performance of States and UTs is inconclusive.

Main Reasons for the Shortcomings in Performance:

  • Governance and Management problems: While it is common knowledge that shortage of teachers and principals and administrative staff, lack of regular supervision and inspection, inadequate training of the teachers, and timely availability of finances are some of the factors plaguing the education system in the country.
  •  The domain of Infrastructure and facilities:
    • Twenty States/UTs have scored less than 120 (80% of the maximum possible score in this domain). Two States, Bihar (81) and Meghalaya (87) recorded the lowest scores in this domain.
    • This is a cause for concern as a proper school building with adequate facilities is a must to improve the overall quality of school education.
    • Indicators like the availability of ICT facilities and timely availability of textbooks and uniforms, which are critical inputs for better performance of students (and mentioned in the RTE Act), are measured in the Infrastructure& Facilities Domain.
    • Significant shortfalls in these areas have also been captured by the Index.
    • On the brighter side, two States, Andaman & Nicobar Islands (141 in 2019-20 from and 111 in 2018-19) and Odisha (109 in 2019-20 from 72 in 2018-19) have shown marked improvements in the Infrastructure Domainbetween 2019-20 and 2018-19, indicating that the States and UTs have started to take action for improving their infrastructure and facilities, albeit by varying extent.
  •  Learning Outcomes: 
    • It has been observed that, in general, the scores obtained in the higher standards are less than those in the lower standards.
    • It is, therefore, imperative to ensure better interventions at the lower standards as it will have a positive cascading effect at the higher levels. 
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio: 
    • The emphasis of the Delhi Government on the importance of education has resulted in a high Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of Delhi – across all 4 levels of e.ducation
    • The decrease in the GER of Bihar and Assam from the primary to the senior secondary level of education is because of an increasing dropout rate in these states
    • While the GER for the upper-primary level and above is higher than the national average, the state government needs to boost initiatives to increase student enrolment in primary schools.

Way Forward:

  • The actual improvement in Learning Outcomes is being handled under a separate initiative that comprises a comprehensive program to improve the capacities of teachers and the entire system of assessment.
  • An integrated 4-year B.Ed. program will usher in reforms in pre-service teacher education while a Central Assessment Agency will carry out a professional assessment at par with global levels.
  • India’s participation in the PISA in 2021 and associated CBSE exam reforms will take the school system from the present largely rote-learning-based system towards a more competency-based one.
  • Rigorous and robust in-service teachers’ training and school principals’ leadership development program will be complemented bye-content under DIKSHA, which will support both the teachers and students.
  • ICT will be leveraged at all levels and particularly under the revamped UDISE+, to ensure the collection of reliable and credible data, which along with enhanced GIS mapping of schools will help in decision-making.
  • Efforts have been made to upgrade the data sources by making them more comprehensive, and user-friendly, and subjecting them to cross-checks, thereby enhancing the reliability and robustness of the information obtained.

Impact of Covid-19 on Education in India:

Key findings- the impact of Covid- 19 Pandemic as per ASER(Annual State of Education Report) by Pratham:

  • About 20% of rural children have no textbooks at home. In Andhra Pradesh, less than 35% of children had textbooks. More than 98% had textbooks in West Bengal, Nagaland, and Assam.
  • In the week of the survey, about one in three rural children had done no learning activity at all.
  • About two in three had no learning material or activity given by their school that week, and only one in 10 had access to live online classes.
  • 3% of rural children aged 6-10 years had not yet enrolled in school this year, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018.
  • Enrolment patterns also show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.

Thus, Covid-19 has shown the extent to which the Indian system of education exploits inequalities. Thus, there is a need for renewed commitments to the synergy between the private and public education sectors. In this context, there is a need to make education a common good and digital innovation can help in achieving this feat.


Higher Education:

  • To portray the status of higher education in the country, the Ministry of Education has endeavored to conduct an annual web-based All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) since 2010-11.
  • The survey covers all the Institutions in the country engaged in imparting higher education.
  • Data is being collected on several parameters such as teachers, student enrolment, programs, examination results, education finance, and infrastructure.

Key outcomes of AISHE:

  • There are 1043 Universities, 42343 Colleges, and 11779 Stand Alone Institutions listed on the AISHE web portal.
  • 307 Universities are affiliating i.e. having Colleges.
  • 396 Universities are privately managed.
  • 420 Universities are located in rural areas.
  •  17 Universities are exclusively for women, 3 in Rajasthan, 2 in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu & 1 each in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal.
  • In addition to 1 Central Open University, 14 State Open Universities, and 1 State Private Open University, there are 110 Dual mode Universities, which offer education through distance mode also and the maximum 13 of them are located in Tamil Nadu.
  •  There are 522 General, 177 Technical, 63 Agriculture & Allied, 66 Medical, 23 Law, 12 Sanskrit, and 11 Language Universities, and the rest 145 Universities are of other Categories.
  • The top 8 States in terms of the highest number of colleges in India are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.
  • Bangalore Urban district tops in terms of the number of colleges with 1009 colleges followed by Jaipur with 606 colleges.
  • The top 50 districts have about 32% of colleges College density, i.e. the number of colleges per lakh eligible population(population in the age-group 18-23 years) varies from 7 in Bihar to 59 in Karnataka as compared to the All India average of 30.
  • 60.56% of Colleges are located in Rural Area. 10.75% of Colleges are exclusively for females.
  • Only 2.7% of Colleges run Ph.D. programs and 35.04% of Colleges run Post Graduate Level programs.
  •  There are 32.6% of Colleges, which run only a single program, out of which 84.1% are privately managed. Among these privately managed colleges, 37.4% of colleges run B.Ed. Courses only.
  •  78.6% of Colleges are privately managed
  • Andhra Pradesh & Telangana have about 80% Private-unaided colleges and Uttar Pradesh has 78.5% Private-unaided colleges, whereas, Chandigarh has 8.0%.
  •  16.6% of the Colleges are having enrolments of less than 100 and only 4% of Colleges have enrolments of more than 3000.
  •  Total enrolment in higher education has been estimated to be 38.5 million with 19 million boys and 18.9 million females. Females constitute 49% of the total enrolment.
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher education in India is 27.1, which is calculated for 18-23 years of age group.
  • Distance enrolment constitutes about 11.1% of the total enrolment in higher education, of which 44.5% are female students.
  •  About 79.5% of the students are enrolled in Undergraduate level programs.
  • 2,02,550 students are enrolled in Ph.D. which is about 0.5% of the total student enrolment.
  • Maximum numbers of Students are enrolled in the B.A. program followed by B.Sc. and B.Com. programs. 10 Programmes out of approximately 196 cover 79% of the total students enrolled in higher education.
  •  At the Undergraduate level the highest number 32.7% of students are enrolled in Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences courses followed by Science 16%, Commerce 14.9% and Engineering and Technology 12.6%.
  •  At the Ph.D. level, a maximum number of students are enrolled in Engineering and Technology stream followed by Science.
  • On the other hand at Post Graduate level maximum number of students are enrolled in the Social Science stream and Science comes at number two.
  • Uttar Pradesh comes at number one with the highest student enrolment followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
  • Scheduled Casts students constitute 14.7% and Scheduled Tribes students 5.6% of the total enrolment. 37% of students belong to Other Backward Classes. 5.5% of students belong to Muslim Minorities and 2.3% from other Minority Communities.
  •  Hence, Indicators of educational development such as Institution Density, Gross Enrolment Ratio, Pupil-teacher ratio, Gender Parity Index, Per Student Expenditure can also be calculated from the data collected through AISHE.
  • These are useful in making informed policy decisions and research for the development of the education sector.
  • According to the All India Survey on Higher Education 2018-19, south India has a higher per capita proportion of colleges compared to the rest of the country.
  • Despite six out of 10 colleges being private institutions, less than half the students study in them.
  • The study also found that among Muslims aged 18-24, representation in higher education is glaringly low compared to the proportion of the population in that age group.
  • More seats in the south Southern States have the highest number of colleges per lakh population (in the age group 18-23).
  • In the north, Himachal Pradesh has the highest. Bihar and Jharkhand have the lowest in the country.


Challenges to Higher education In India:

  • Enrolment: The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of India in higher education is only 25.2% which is quite low as compared to the developed and other major developing countries.
  • Equity:
    • There is no equity in GER among different sections of society. GER for males (26.3%), females (25.4%), SC (21.8%), and ST (15.9%).
    • There are regional variations too. While some states have high GER some are far behind the national figures.
    • The college density (number of colleges per lakh eligible population) varies from 7 in Bihar to 59 in Telangana as compared to the All India average of 28.
    • Most of the premier universities and colleges are centered in metropolitan and urban cities, thereby leading to the regional disparity in access to higher education.
  • Quality: Higher Education in India is plagued with rot learning, lack of employability and skill development due to the low quality of education.
  • Infrastructure: Poor infrastructure is another challenge to higher education in India. Due to the budget deficit, corruption, and lobbying by the vested interest group (Education Mafias), public sector universities in India lack the necessary infrastructure. Even the Private sector is not upto the mark as per the global standard.
  • Faculty: Faculty shortages and the inability of the state educational system to attract and retain well-qualified teachers have been posing challenges to quality education for many years. Shortage of faculty leads to Ad-hoc expansion even in the premier institutions.
  • The Pupil-to-teacher ratio though has been stable in the country (30:1), however, it needs to be improved to make it comparable to the USA (12.5:1), China (19.5:1), and Brazil (19:1).
  • Outdated Curriculum: Outdated, irrelevant curriculum that is dominantly theoretical in nature and has a low scope for creativity. There is a wide gap between industry requirements and universities’ curricula which is the main reason for the low employability of graduates in India.
  • Accreditation: As per the data provided by the NAAC, as of June 2010, not even 25% of the total higher education institutions in the country were accredited. And among those accredited, only 30% of the universities and 45% of the colleges were found to be of quality to be ranked at 'A' level.
  • Regulatory issues: The management of Indian education faces challenges of over-centralization, bureaucratic structures, and lack of accountability, transparency, and professionalism. As a result of the increase in the number of affiliated colleges and students, the burden of administrative functions of universities has significantly increased and the core focus on academics and research is diluted.
  • Research: Poor fund allocation in research, Low levels of PhD enrolment, fewer opportunities for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, Low levels of industry engagement, Low quality of research work, etc. are some of the factors affecting the research ecosystem in India,

Way Forward:

  • Regulatory and governance reforms:
    • Restructure or merge different higher education regulators (UGC, AICTE, NCTE etc.) to ensure effective coordination.
    • Amend UGC Act to give legislative backing to the regulatory structure.
    • Allow foreign institutions to operate joint degree programs with Indian institutions.
    • Link University grants to performance.
    • Select Vice-Chancellors of universities through a transparent & objective process.
  • Creating ‘world-class universities’: 20 universities – 10 each from the public and private sector – are being selected as ‘Institutions of Eminence’, to help them attain world-class standards of teaching and research. A graded mechanism to ensure additional funds flow to top public universities should be developed, as in China & Singapore.
  • The Draft National Education Policy, 2019 recommended Restructuring of the higher education system into Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3:
    • Tier 1 includes research universities focusing equally on research and teaching, Tier 2 includes teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching; and Tier 3 includes colleges focusing only on teaching at undergraduate levels. All such institutions will gradually move towards full autonomy – academic, administrative, and financial. The idea is to spread ‘research culture' at the undergraduate level.
  • Increased focus on vocational and profession-led education: Include vocational subjects in mainstream universities to allow for greater acceptance and utility for vocational learning.
  • Accreditation Framework: All higher education institutions must be accredited compulsorily & regularly, by agencies, empanelled through a transparent, high-quality process.
  • Performance-linked funding and incentives: All central universities should develop strategic plans for getting into the top 500 global universities' rankings in the next 10 years. Funding to these institutions should be linked to performance and outcomes through the MHRD and the newly constituted Higher Education Funding Agency
  • Distance and online education: Broaden the scope of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) to provide access to quality education beyond geographical boundaries.

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