Fresh data released by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India, suggest that Gujarat is one of the poorest performers in ensuring the enrollment of children in secondary and higher secondary schools. Found reflected in the report, “Secondary Education in India, Thematic Maps: 2012-13”, published by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), which operates under the MHRD, the data suggest that out of 20 major states, as many as 13 of them enrolled a higher proportion of students than Gujarat at the higher secondary level. At the secondary level, things are not very different – here, too, as many as 13 major states enrolled higher proportion of students than Gujarat.
At the higher secondary level, Gujarat could enroll just 38.04 per cent of children, the data show. This was better than only Odisha, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. The best performer was Himachal Pradesh with a gross enrollment ratio of 94.57 per cent. At least three states known for poor scores in social sector performed better than Gujarat — Rajasthan was found to have a gross enrollment ratio of 41.58 per cent, Chhattisgarh had a gross enrollment ratio of 41.49 per cent, and Uttar Pradesh had a gross enrollment ratio of 42.80 per cent.
At the secondary level, the data suggest, the states which performed worse than Gujarat are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir. The best performer is Himachal Pradesh with a gross enrollment rate of 117.85 per cent. Gross enrollment includes the children who get enrolled for the first time in school, as also repeaters who may have failed in examination — one reason why the percentage of gross enrollment ratio is sometimes higher than 100 per cent.
These data should come as a shocker to Gujarat’s official view, that over the last one decade, the quality of education at the secondary and higher secondary level has considerably improved. One such claim, for instance, says that “the total number of government run secondary and higher secondary schools in Gujarat has increased from 140 in 2001 to 744 in 2011”, adding, “Narendra Modi’s government has introduced some effective initiatives which have enhanced the quality. These are introduction of comprehensive and continuous evaluation, introduction of semester system from class 9, change in pattern of board examination among many others.”
Enrollment is not the only issue faced at the higher secondary and secondary level schooling in Gujarat. As a recent report, prepare by Catalyst Management Services, titled “Status of Girl Child in Secondary Education in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan” admits, Gujarat has to not just face challenges “in achieving universalisation of primary education”, but also “needs to improve its gender ratio” while admitting children in schools, including at the higher levels.
Gujarat’s skewed sex ratio, no doubt, finds reflected poorer attendance of girls in schools. While at the primary level the proportion of girls vis-à-vis is boys in Gujarat around is about the same as the sex ratio, one finds that at the higher secondary and secondary levels, the neglect of the girl child becomes more than evident and the gap between girls and boys enrollment goes up drastically.
In fact, the NUEPA data suggest that, at the higher secondary level, 76 girls study in Gujarat, as against 100 boys. Ranking 19th, the proportion is worse than as many as 18 other states. The state which performs worse than Gujarat is Rajasthan (63 girls against 100 boys). Madhya Pradesh’s performance equals that of Gujarat with 76 girls against 100 boys. The best performer is Tamil Nadu, with 115 girls studying at the higher secondary level as against 100 boys. At the secondary level, Gujarat is the worst performer – along with Rajasthan – with 70 girls as against 100 boys. The best performer is West Bengal with 111 girls as against 100 boys.
There is little reason to believe that there would be any data manipulation. A NUEPA note says, initially, the Government of India’s mandate was to improve education at the primary level through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. With Right to Education Act in 2009, and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), it became necessary to monitor not just elementary but also secondary and higher secondary education.
“The Secondary Education in India, Thematic Maps: 2012-13” is based on the data received from as many as 228 thousand schools spread over 662 districts across 35 states and union territories”, the NUEPA says, adding, “In no way, NUEPA is involved in data collection as such, therefore the accuracy and truthfulness of the data rest with the states and union territories. The State Project Directors have certified that data is free from errors and inconsistencies and hence may be merged into the national database maintained at NUEPA, New Delhi.”
In a disclaimer, the NUEPA, which released its report in February 2014, has said, “Raw data presented in the document or used for calculating indicators are essentially based on data provided by states and union territories through annual data collection (as on 30th September 2012).” These data have been calculated on the basis of NUEPA’s “professional and software support to all states and union territories, as well as for dissemination and analysis of data, as it is provided by the individual states and union territories.”