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Poor net enrollment ratio pulls down Gujarat’s primary education index

By Rajiv Shah 
Gujarat’s education development index (EDI) has slipped both in lower primary and upper primary level because of the failure to address human resource issues. 
The latest flash statistics in “Elementary Education in India: Progress towards Universal Elementary Education”, a just-published report, has found that, despite the hype around Kanya Kelavni enrolment drive for ensuring cent per cent enrolment at the primary level, Gujarat’s ranking for both the lower primary (classes I to V) and the upper primary level (classes VI to VIII) have badly slipped. Put out in November 2013, the report has found that if the overall education development index (EDI) of Gujarat dropped from 9th in 2011-12 to 18th in 2012-13 among 35 Indian states and union territories, as for the lower primary level, the rank slipped from the 12th to the 28th position. The performance is slightly better for the upper primary level; however, here too Gujarat’s rank, which was 8th in 2011-12, slipped to 14th in 2012-13.
A comparison between major Indian states suggests that the best performer for the lower primary education in 2012-13 was Tamil Nadu, which ranked No 1 with a score of 0.662 on a scale of one. Other major states which performed better than Gujarat were Karnataka (0.615), Punjab (0.586), Maharashtra (0.583), Uttarakhand (0.577), Jammu & Kashmir (0.576), Himachal Pradesh (0.576), West Bengal (0.563), Odisha (0.559), Kerala (0.555), Andhra Pradesh (0.553), Madhya Pradesh (0.553), Uttar Pradesh (0.551) and Bihar (0.529). Gujarat’s score of 0.527 was not only worse than 15 of the 20 major states, but, pitiably, well below the so-called backward states Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.
The report, which provides data as of September 2012, has further found that, as for the upper primary level, no doubt, the relative performance of Gujarat was better than several major states — even though here too its EDI ranking slipped. Here, five major states which performed better than Gujarat were Tamil Nadu, with an EDI score of 0.704, followed by Punjab (0.708), Karnataka (0.707), Tamil Nadu (0.704), Maharashtra (0.687) and Himachal Pradesh (0.675). Gujarat’s EDI score for the upper primary level was 0.656 on a scale of one. While calculating inter-state EDI score, a set of 24 indicators were regrouped into four sub-groups – access to education, infrastructure, teachers and outcome indicators — in order to arrive at an EDI.
Data suggest that Gujarat’s ranking was better at the upper primary level only because the state was able to provide better infrastructure facilities to schools. In fact, as far as infrastructure was concerned, Gujarat was ranked No 4 among 35 states and union territories, for which data were collected. Only two major states out of 20 performed better than Gujarat (EDI score 0.849) – Karnataka with a score of 0.889 on a scale of one and Himachal Pradesh with a score of 0.850. The infrastructure factor included categories like student-classroom ratio, classroom-teacher ratio, drinking water facilities, boys’ and girls’ toilets, and kitchen sheds for midday meal.
Net enrollment ratio at the lower primary level
While things were found to be not very bad when it came to infrastructure facilities at the lower primary level, where Gujarat improved its EDI ranking to No 11 in 2012-13 from No 17 in 2011-12, what really pulled Gujarat backwards was access to education, especially at the lower primary level. Thus, here Gujarat ranked one of the worst — No 34th among 35 Indian states and union territories. The factors taken into account under access to education were density of schools per 10 square kilomtres are, availability of schools per 1,000 child population, and the ratio of lower primary to upper primary schools/ sections.
Net enrollment ratio at the upper primary level
Like access to education, things were not found to be particularly good for the state’s outcome index at the lower primary level. While here Gujarat ranked No 29 among 35 states and union territories, the outcome index is significant as it sought to analyse such factors like average number of instructional days, working hours for teachers, percentage improvement in enrollment in government schools, percentage enrollment of SC, ST and Muslim children, ratio of girls’ enrollment, dropout rate, and transition rate from primary to upper primary level. As for the outcome ranking of the upper primary schools, things were slightly better but worse than many states — Gujarat’s EDI ranking was No 20 among 35 states and union territories.
In fact, data seek to demolish the myth of cent per cent enrollment at the primary level suggest that Gujarat fared particularly bad with regard to the net enrollment ratio at the lower primary level. It was found to stand at just 83.99 per cent, as against the all-India average of 90.76 per cent. The net enrollment rate at the lower primary level for Gujarat, significantly, was worse than the so-called socially backward states like Bihar (85.67 per cent), Chhattisgarh (98.02 per cent), Odisha (89.06 per cent), and Uttar Pradesh (96.67 per cent), apart from several other states.
As for the upper primary schools, in Gujarat, things with regard to net enrollment ratio were found to be only slightly better – at 67.42 per cent – as against the all-India average of 64.24 per cent. Even then, it was worse than Kerala (80.08 per cent), Assam (70.25 per cent), Chhattisgarh (71.40 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (75.26 per cent), Jharkhand (68.53 per cent), Karnataka (68.53 per cent), Maharashtra (71.51 per cent), Punjab (70.30 per cent), Tamil Nadu (75.88 per cent), and so on. Significantly, the inter-state data of schools were compiled and collated on the basis of the facts provided by the respective state governments’ education departments.

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