Decoding ASER 2023: Understanding the Educational Landscape of India

Decoding ASER 2023: Understanding the Educational Landscape of India (2024)


Since 2005, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), an initiative led by the Pratham Education Foundation, has diligently monitored the educational scenario in rural India. The 2023 edition, titled “Beyond Basics,” delves into the lives and learning experiences of 14-18-year-olds. This edition goes beyond mere enrollment statistics, evaluating their proficiency in basic skills, aspirations, and access to digital technology. ASER 2023 sheds light on crucial aspects of youth development, offering valuable insights for policy formulation and educational interventions.

Methodology and ASER’s Evolution

ASER employs a distinctive citizen-led methodology, where trained volunteers conduct household surveys using age-appropriate tools. This grassroots approach ensures precise data collection while fostering local ownership of the education process. ASER has evolved from its initial focus on enrollment and basic learning levels to exploring themes like early childhood education, digital literacy, and vocational skills. This year’s emphasis on young adults recognizes their pivotal role in shaping India’s future.

ASER 2023: Key Findings

The ASER 2023 report holds significance for several reasons:

  1. Focus on Critical Age Group: ASER 2023 addresses a crucial gap in understanding this demographic by examining young adults. Recognizing their aspirations, challenges, and skill sets is essential for shaping India’s future.
  2. Beyond Enrollment: While enrollment is crucial, ASER 2023 evaluates learning outcomes and life skills, providing a more comprehensive view of the education system’s effectiveness.
  3. Digital Divide: The report highlights the digital divide in rural India, urging policymakers to ensure equitable access to digital opportunities for all, including rural areas and bridge the gaps.
  4. Influencing Policy: Data-driven insights from ASER 2023 may inform evidence-based policy decisions and program interventions at national and state levels. State-specific analyses are crucial for tailored interventions at the local level.

ASER 2023: Main Findings (ASERCentre)

Critical Findings at National and State Levels

The latest ASER report focuses on “Beyond Basics” skills of rural youth aged 14-18 in India. The survey covered 28 districts across 26 states, reaching 34,745 youth. Key findings include:

Education and Enrollment

  • High enrollment:8 percent of 14-18-year-olds are enrolled in an educational institution; this is a positive indicator, showing that many young people are continuing their education beyond primary school. But at the same time, it is also true that many young people of this age group may still be in elementary grades, which otherwise means that without improving the efficiency of the elementary level of education, all youths can’t reach secondary and higher secondary levels of education.
  • Gender gap:There are small gender gaps in enrollment, with slightly more boys than girls. However, the gap is much more significant for older youth, with 32.6 percent of 18-year-olds not enrolled compared to just 3.9 percent of 14-year-olds; this clearly shows that many people do not continue post-elementary education.
  • Stream choices:Most young people in this age group were enrolled in the Arts/Humanities stream (55.7 percent). STEM subjects are less popular, with only 31.7 percent of students enrolled in this stream; this is especially concerning for girls, as only 28.1 percent are registered in STEM compared to 36.3 percent of boys. Bringing more girls to STEM subjects must be the top priority if India desires to attain a 100 percent enrollment ratio in the case of school education by 2030, as specified in NEP 2020.

Work and Livelihoods

  • Gender differences: A higher percentage of males engage in non-household work, highlighting a gender gap in workforce participation.
  • Family farms: Youth engaged in non-household work, especially on family farms, emphasizing agriculture’s continued importance.

Digital Access and Skills

  • Device ownership: Only 37.5% of households own smartphones, revealing a significant digital divide.
  • Digital skills: Limited proficiency (37.9%) in basic digital tasks indicates a need for increased investment in digital literacy programs.


  • Higher education aspirations: Approximately 60% of youth aspire to pursue higher education, indicating resilient aspirations despite challenges.

Using ASER Data for Educational Improvement

ASER data can enhance education quality through:

  • Targeted interventions for specific challenges in lagging states and districts.
  • Improving learning methodologies based on identified gaps in foundational skills.
  • Bridging the digital divide through infrastructure, training, and digital literacy initiatives.
  • Empowering youth through informed career counseling, skill development, and entrepreneurship initiatives.

Why ASER Matters

ASER findings are crucial for various stakeholders:

  • Policymakers benefit from evidence-based decision-making.
  • Educators and administrators can tailor interventions to improve teaching practices.
  • Communities and parents gain awareness to hold schools accountable and demand better education quality.

Leveraging ASER for Quality Improvement

ASER data can enhance educational quality by:

  • Targeting interventions in low-performing districts and groups.
  • Informing teacher training programs based on qualifications and effectiveness.
  • Directing resources to address learning material and infrastructure gaps.
  • Fostering community engagement by disseminating ASER findings to address educational challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What is ASER 2023, and why is it significant?

ASER 2023 is the Annual Status of Education Report, a detailed examination of rural education in India led by the Pratham Education Foundation. It holds significance for policymakers, educators, and communities, providing insights into youth development, digital access, and educational aspirations.

Q2: How does ASER collect its data?

ASER employs a citizen-led methodology, utilizing trained volunteers who conduct household surveys using age-appropriate tools. This grassroots approach ensures accurate data collection and fosters local ownership of the education process.

Q3: What are the main focus areas of ASER 2023?

ASER 2024 focuses on youth aged 14-18, exploring areas such as enrollment, learning outcomes, digital access, STEM education, vocational training, and the aspirations of young adults. It goes beyond basic education metrics to provide a holistic view of the educational landscape.

Q4: What does the report reveal about digital access in rural India?

The report highlights a significant digital divide, with only 37.5% of households owning a smartphone and 14.4% having internet access at home. This emphasizes the need for initiatives to ensure equitable access to digital opportunities and bridge the gaps.

Q5: How does ASER address gender disparities in education?

ASER 2024 identifies gender gaps in enrollment and workforce participation. For instance, while there are small gender gaps in enrollment, a more significant gap emerges among older youth, indicating challenges in post-elementary education continuation.

Q6: What are the key findings regarding vocational training?

The report indicates that only 5.6% of surveyed youth are currently undertaking vocational training or related courses. This underscores the need for increased emphasis on vocational skills development in India.

Q7: How can ASER data be used for educational improvement?

ASER data can inform targeted interventions, improve learning methodologies, bridge the digital divide, and empower youth through career counseling and skill development programs. It serves as a valuable tool for evidence-based policy decisions.

Q8: Why is the focus on STEM education and vocational training important?

The report highlights concerns about the popularity of STEM subjects, especially among girls, and the low participation in vocational training. Focusing on these areas is crucial for equipping youth with diverse skills, aligning with the goals outlined in the National Education Policy 2020.

Q9: What role does ASER play in shaping education policy?

ASER provides data-driven insights that can guide evidence-based policy decisions and program interventions at both national and state levels. The detailed state-specific analysis is essential for tailoring interventions to address local challenges.

Q10: How can communities and parents benefit from ASER findings?

ASER findings create awareness about learning levels, empowering communities to hold schools accountable and demand better quality education. This involvement fosters a sense of responsibility and collaboration in improving educational outcomes at the local level.

Constitution of the High-Powered Committee: The National Syllabus &Teaching-Learning Material Committee (NSTC)

Constitution of the High-Powered Committee: The National Syllabus and Teaching-Learning Material Committee (NSTC)


The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has set out a new roadmap for school education in India. One of the key pillars of the NEP is the development of a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for school education. The NCF will be a flexible and learner-centric framework providing a roadmap for developing textbooks and other teaching-learning materials (TLTMs) for school education.

Constitution of the NSTC

In order to develop the NCF and TLTMs for classes 3-12, the Ministry of Education has constituted a High-Powered Committee (HPC) called the National Syllabus and Teaching-Learning Material Committee (NSTC) on July 2023. The NSTC is a 21-member committee chaired by Shri M.C. Pant, Chancellor of the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA). The co-chairperson of the NSTC is Prof. Manjul Bhargava, Princeton University.

The other members of the NSTC are:

  • Sudha Murty, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation
  • Bibek Debroy, Chairman, EAC to the PM of India
  • Shekhar Mande, Former Director of the General Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
  • Sujatha Ramdorai, University of British Columbia
  • Shri Shankar Mahadevan, Music Maestro
  • Shri L.Vimal Kumar, Director, Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy
  • Michel Danino, Visiting Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar
  • Surina Rajan, Former Director General, Haryana Institute of Public Administration (HIPA)
  • Shri Chamu Krishna Shastri, Chairperson, Bhasha Samiti
  • Shri Sanjiv Sanyal, Member, EAC-PM
  • M.D. Srinivas, Chairman, Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai
  • Shri Gajanan Londhe, Head, Programme Office, NSTC
  • Rabin Chettri, Director, State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Sikkim

The NSTC will be assisted by several experts and stakeholders, including members of the National Steering Committee for the NEP, the Mandate Group for the NCF, and the State Councils of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs).

Terms of Reference (ToR)

The NSTC will be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Developing the NCF for classes 3-12
  • Developing TLTMs for classes 3-12
  • Reviewing and updating the existing textbooks for classes 1 and 2
  • Facilitating the development of TLTMs by Curricular Area Groups (CAGs)
  • Overseeing the development of TLTMs by the NCERT and SCERTs

The NSTC will be guided by the principles of the NEP, which emphasize learner-centrism, holistic development, and multidisciplinary learning. The NSTC will also consider the feedback from teachers, parents, and other stakeholders.


The NSTC will be supported by a National Oversight Committee (NOC) that will be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Ensuring that the NSTC is functioning effectively
  • Guiding the NSTC on technical and content matters
  • Overseeing the development of the NCF and TLTMs

The NOC will be composed of a few members of the National Steering Committee, the Mandate Group for the NCF, and other relevant experts.

One may conclude that the constitution of the NSTC is a significant step towards implementing the NEP. The NSTC will be critical in developing the NCF and TLTMs for classes 3-12. The NOC will support the NSTC and ensure the process is smooth and efficient.

Constitution_of_High-Powered_Committee-NSTC-NCERT-July2023 (Official Communication)

Education for All in India

Masters in Arts Launched by NIEPA, New Delhi (MAED) 2023

Masters in Arts Launched by NIEPA, New Delhi (MAED)


The MA program at NIEPA is full-time, and students must complete 60 credits. The program is divided into the core curriculum and the electives. The core curriculum includes courses on educational theory, policy, and practice, as well as development and social change courses. In addition to coursework, students in the MA program at NIEPA are also required to complete a research project. The research project allows students to apply the knowledge & skills they learned in the program to real-world problems.

The Job Opportunities

The MA program at NIEPA is competitive, and admission is based on a combination of various modes, including academic performance, work experience, and letters of recommendation. The MA program at NIEPA prepares students for various careers in education, development, and public policy. Graduates of the program have worked in various settings, including schools, government agencies, NGOs, and research institutions. Most scholars who have attained Ph.D. degrees from NIEPA are placed in Universities & organizations of repute.

Some of the benefits of pursuing an MA in Education and Development from NIEPA: A solid academic foundation in education and development, the opportunity to research a real-world problem, a chance to network with experts in the field, access to a wide range of resources, including libraries, laboratories, and research centers, potential to pursue a career in education, development, or public policy, etc.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in education or development, the MA program at NIEPA is an excellent option. The program offers a solid academic foundation, the opportunity to conduct research, and the chance to network with experts in the field.

NIEPAs MA Vs. PhD/Mphil Programmes

NIEPA also offers Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in Educational Policy, Planning, and Administration. The main difference between the two programs is the level of specialization and research required NIEPA’s Ph.D. program is a four-year program that is designed to prepare students for careers in research & teaching. Students in the Ph.D. program take courses in various areas, including educational theory, research methods, and policy analysis. They also complete a dissertation, which is a research project that makes a significant contribution to the field of educational policy, planning, and administration.

Eligibility for MAED

  • The Applicants should have recognized a 3-year or 4-year bachelor’s degree in any discipline; &
  • The minimum age limit for admission to MAED is 21 years, & the maximum is 65 years for admission.

Mode of Application

Online & the following documents are required to submit online at the time of filling up the admission application:

  • 10 Class mark sheets and certificate
  • 12 Class mark sheet and certificate
  • The undergraduate mark sheet and degree certificate
  • SC/ST/OBC/EWS/Persons with Disabilities certificates, if applicable
  • NOC from employer, if working; and
  • Fee payment/submission receipt

Selection Process

The admission to MAED will be based on a National Level Entrance Test followed by personal interviews. The online written test will have both MCQ and Essay[type questions.

  • Syllabi for MCQ: Quantitative aptitude, research aptitude, logical reasoning, comprehension, digital technology
  • Syllabi for Essay-type Questions: Educational policies and practices, data analysis and interpretations, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Right to Education (RTE), education of disadvantaged, developmental issues and challenges


  • Call for the Applications May 22, 2023
  • Closure for Application Submission June 28, 2023
  • Written Test July 07, 2023
  • Personal Interviews July 14, 2023
  • Declaration of Final Results July 21, 2023
  • Admissions July 26, 2023
  • Commencement of the Classes July 31, 2023


Always visit the following web pages for the authentic details of the MAED program of NIEPA.

NIEPA’s Other Prestigious Programmes

Education for Allin India

NIRF 2023: National Institute Ranking Framework

National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF)2023

Brief Introduction

The National Institutional Ranking Framework is an initiative by the Ministry of Education/HRD, Government of India. It was launched in 2015 to rank higher education institutions in India. The Rankings for the year 2023 was released on June 6th 2023, brief analysis of which is presented in this article. Have a look at it!!

The NIRF rankings are based on several parameters concerning learning, teaching, and resources; research & professional practice; graduation outcomes; outreach and inclusivity; and perception. The rankings are considred a valuable tool for students, parents, and policymakers to compare different universities and institutions in India. The NIRF rankings are released annually and have become a widely accepted benchmark for assessing the quality of higher education institutions in India.

As many as 1,000 institutions have been covered under the NIRF 2023 Rankings, details of which can be seen below in the Table:

Number of Universities & Institutions Covered in NIRF 2023 by Type

Type Number of institutions
Universities 875
Colleges 115
Schools 10
Hospitals 0

The NIRF rankings are an excellent way to compare universities and institutions in India. However, rankings are not the only factor to consider when choosing a university. Other factors, such as the cost of attendance, the location of the university, and the specific programs offered by the university, may also be necessary.



Methodology of NIRF

The National Institutional Ranking Framework methodology is developed by the Ministry of Education/Human Resource Development of India to rank higher education institutions in the country. The NIRF rankings are released annually and have become a widely accepted benchmark for assessing the quality of higher education institutions in India.

The NIRF rankings, which are based on a set of objective criteria, are grouped into five broad categories:

  • Teaching, Learning, and Resources (TLR):Through this category, the quality of teaching & learning at the institution level, as well as the availability of resources such as libraries, laboratories, and faculty, is measured.
  • Research and Professional Practices (RPC):This category measures the institution’s research output, as well as its engagement with industry and the community.
  • Graduation Outcomes (GO):This category measures the performance of the institution’s students, as measured by their placement rates, research publications, and awards.
  • Outreach and Inclusivity (OI):This category measures the institution’s efforts to reach underrepresented groups, such as students from rural areas or minority communities.
  • Perception (PER):This category measures the institution’s reputation, as measured by a survey of experts and stakeholders.

Each of these categories is assigned a weight, and the overall ranking of an institution is determined by its score in each category. The NIRF rankings are valuable for students, parents, and policymakers. They can help students make informed decisions about where to study and help policymakers identify areas where improvements are needed in the higher education system.

The NIEF rankings qualitative criteria are further grouped into the following four broad categories:

  • Teaching and Learning (TL)
  • Research and Innovation (RI)
  • Outreach and Connectivity (OC)
  • Governance & Financial Sustainability (GFS)

The key features of the NIRF methodology are summarized below:

  • The NIRF rankings are based on objective criteria designed to be transparent and reproducible.
  • The NIRF rankings are released annually, which allows institutions to track their progress over time.
  • The NIRF rankings are widely accepted by students, parents, and policymakers, which makes them a valuable tool for assessing the quality of higher education institutions in India.

The NIRF rankings have been criticized for being too focused on research & not giving enough weight to teaching and learning. The rankings have also been criticized for being too subjective and not based on complex data. Despite criticisms, the NIRF and the NIEF rankings have become essential tools for students, parents, and policymakers. They can help students make informed decisions about where to study and help policymakers identify areas where improvements are needed in the higher education system.

The NIRF 2023 Rankings

In the NIRF 2023 rankings, overall, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) is ranked first, followed by the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi) and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay). IIT Madras was ranked first in the engineering category, followed by IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay. In the management category, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM Ahmedabad) was ranked first, followed by the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM Bangalore) and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM Calcutta).

The Top 15 Institutions: NIRF 2023

A few key findings of the NIRF 2023 rankings are summarized below:

  • The top 100 institutions in the NIRF rankings are concentrated in a few states, such as Delhi, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.
  • The government-funded institutions dominate the NIRF rankings, with private institutions making up a small minority.
  • The NIRF rankings show a wide range of quality among higher education institutions in India.
  • The NIRF rankings can be used to identify institutions performing well and areas where improvements are needed.

Here is the list of the Top 15 institutions based on the NIRF 2023 Rankings:

  1. Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras)
  2. Indian Institute of Science (IISc)
  3. Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi)
  4. Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay)
  5. Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur)
  6. Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT Kharagpur)
  7. Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IIT Roorkee)
  8. Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati)
  9. AIIMS: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
  10. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)
  11. Banaras Hindu University (BHU)
  12. University of Delhi
  13. Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IIT Hyderabad)
  14. National Institute of Technology (NIT) Tiruchirappalli
  15. Indian Institute of Technology Indore (IIT Indore)



Compare NIRF 2022 & NIRF 2023 Rankings

 The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) and the National Institutional Excellence Framework (NIEF) are two different ranking systems for higher education institutions in India. The NIRF rankings are released annually, while the NIEF rankings are released biennially.

Here is a comparison of the top 10 institutions in the NIRF & NIEF rankings for 2022 & 2023:

Institution NIRF 2022 NIEF 2022 NIRF 2023 NIEF 2023
Indian Institute of Technology Madras 1 1 1 1
Indian Institute of Science 2 2 3 3
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi 3 3 2 2
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay 4 4 4 4
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur 5 5 5 5
Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur 6 6 6 6
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee 7 7 7 7
Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati 8 8 8 8
All India Institute of Medical Sciences 9 9 9 9

The above Table reveals much overlapping between the top 10 institutions in the NIRF and NIEF rankings, suggesting that both ranking systems effectively identify India’s best higher education institutions. There are a few significant differences between the two ranking systems. For example, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras is ranked first in the NIRF rankings, but it is ranked third in the NIEF rankings. This suggests that the NIRF rankings may focus more on research, while the NIEF rankings may focus more on teaching and learning.

Ultimately, the best way to choose a higher education institution is to consider all of the available information, including the NIRF and NIEF rankings. Factors such as the institution’s location, cost, and programs and courses must also be considered while selecting an institution.

The Top 10 Universities: NIRF 2023

The following are the top 10 universities in India as per NIRF 2023:

  • Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi
  • Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
  • Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  • Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi
  • Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal
  • Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore
  • Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Vellore
  • Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh
  • University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad

The IISc has been ranked as the country’s top university in the National Institutional Ranking Framework rankings for 2023. The IISc has been ranked first for the sixth consecutive year.

As mentioned above, the NIRF rankings are based on numerous parameters, such as teaching, learning & resources, research & professional practice, graduation outcomes, outreach and inclusivity, and perception. The IISc has been praised for its robust research output, faculty and student quality, and infrastructure. The university has also been credited with playing a pivotal role in developing India’s technological and scientific prowess.



The other universities in the top 10 are also highly regarded for their academic excellence. JNU is known for its humanities and social sciences programs, while Jamia Millia Islamia is a leading university for Islamic studies. Jadavpur University is a premier institution for engineering and science, while BHU is one of India’s oldest and most prestigious universities.

The top 10 universities in India offer a wide range of courses and programs, and they are all committed to providing high-quality education.

Top 10 Engineering Colleges: NIRF 2023 Rankings

  • IIT Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • IIT Delhi, New Delhi, Delhi
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
  • Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, Uttarakhand
  • IIT Kharagpur, Kharagpur, West Bengal
  • Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati), Guwahati, Assam
  • Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, Hyderabad, Telangana
  • National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli (NIT Trichy), Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu
  • Jadavpur University (JU), Kolkata, West Bengal

These colleges are all highly regarded for their academic excellence and research output. They offer a wide range of engineering programs, & graduates produced by them are highly rated and sought-after by employers. When making decisions and selecting an engineering college, it is essential to consider other factors, such as the college’s location, cost, and culture.

NIRF 2022 Vs.NIRF 2023 Rankings

A comparison of the top 15 institutions based on NIRF 2022 and NIRF 2023 ranking is presented below:

Rank Institution NIRF 2022 NIRF 2023 Change
1 Indian Institute of Science 1 1 No change
2 Indian Institute of Technology Bombay 2 2 No change
3 Indian Institute of Technology Delhi 3 3 No change
4 Indian Institute of Technology Madras 4 4 No change
5 Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur 5 5 No change
6 Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur 6 6 No change
7 Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee 7 7 No change
8 Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati 8 8 No change
9 Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad 9 10 Down one rank
10 Indian Institute of Technology Banaras Hindu University 10 9 Up one rank
11 University of Delhi 11 11 No change
12 All India Institute of Medical Sciences 12 12 No change
13 National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli 13 13 No change
14 National Institute of Technology Durgapur 14 14 No change
15 National Institute of Technology Calicut 15 15 No change

One may observe that there is no major change in the top 15 institutions in the NIRF ranking 2023. The Indian Institute of Science continues to be the top-ranked institution in India, followed by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Delhi, and Madras. The only change in the top 15 is that the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad has moved down one rank to 10. In comparison, the Indian Institute of Technology Banaras Hindu University has moved up one rank to 9.

e-Book by Arun C Mehta released: FORTY YEARS OF ARUN C MEHTA at NIEPA

e-Book by Arun C Mehta: FORTY YEARS OF ARUN C MEHTA at NIEPA, New Delhi

Professor Arun C. Mehta
Professor & Head (Formerly)
Department of Educational Management Information System
NIEPA, New Delhi

Ph.D. (Demographic Projections) from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur; specialist in EMIS, Quantitative Techniques and Projections and Forecasting of Educational Data; authored books on Education for All in India, Enrolment Projections, Population Projections and Upper Primary Education and contributed a number of research articles in journals and in NUEPA Occasional Paper Series; published a number of reports annually based on DISE data; presented papers both at the Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Consulted by World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO and ACCU (Japan), Trained at UNESCO Regional Office at Bangkok and Harvard Institute of International Development, USA. Was actively engaged in strengthening of Educational Management Information System in India during 2001 to 2017 (January) at the national level and managed one of the World’s largest information systems i.e. District Information System for Education (DISE/U-DISE). & developed under the guidance of Prof. Mehta is the recipient of e-Governance 2010 & eINDIA 2010 National Awards & Manthan Award South Asia 2010 & EMPI Indian Express Indian Innovation Award 2012.

e-Book Released: 15th February 2022

The  e-Book, entitled Forty Years of Arun C Mehta at NIEPA: 1980 to 2019 was released  on 15th February 2022 by Prof. N. V. Varghese, Vice-Chancellor, NIEPA, New Delhi. Prof. Varghese highlighted importance of research work done by Prof. Mehta, specially his contributions towards strengthening Educational Management Information System (EMIS) in India through Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE) in his address.

Prof. Mehta presented details of e-Book in the release function. Prof. G. D. Sharma, Former Head of the Higher Education Department, NIEPA and Prof. Sridhar Srivastava, Joint Director, NCERT, New Delhi reflected on research work  carried out by Prof. Mehta over almost four decades and highlighted importance of self accountability in the academic field.  Shri A. N. Reddy, Assistant Professor, NIEPA made the introductory observations and welcome the guests and briefly introduced the speakers.

Video Recording of Release Function

The Foreword of e-Book  is written  by Prof. Kuldeep Mathur, Former Director, NIEPA.

Late Prof. B. P. Khandelwal (Former Director NIEPA), Prof. P. K. Joshi (Former Director NIEPA & presently Chairman of UPSC), Prof. R. Govinda (Former Vice-Chancellor, NIEPA), Shri Baldev Mahajan (Former Joint Director NIEPA), Prof. Marmar Mukhopadhyay (Former Joint Director, NIEPA), Prof. G. D. Sharma (Former Head of the Higher Education Department, NIEPA), Prof. Najma Akhtar (Former Professor NIEPA & presently Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Milia Islamia University), Mr. Simon Ellis (Former Regional Director UNESCO Institute for Statistics) and Prof. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, Chair of Education and International Development, University College London have extensively commented on the research undertaken by Prof. Arun C Mehta.

Foreword & Observations on Research  by Prof. Arun C Mehta

Download Full e-Book

Video Recording of Release Function

50% GER at Higher Education Level in India 2035 Achievable?

50 percent GER at Higher Education in India in 2035 possible?
By Arun C Mehta

Unlike school education level at which enrolment based indicators such as Gross & Net enrolment ratio as well as Age-specific and Adjusted-NER are frequently computed and use in plan formulation, at the higher education level only Gross Enrolment Ratio is being used to examine the participation of a relevant age-specific population i.e. 18 to 23 years in the higher education programmes. In this article, we have examinsed whether  50 percent GER at higher education in India in 2035 is possible?

For calculating GER at any level of education, information on total enrolment in a year and the corresponding age-specific population in that year is required. While total enrolment and its male and female bifurcation, as well as enrolment by the social category i.e. Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes, is available from the All-India Survey on Higher Education (AISHS, latest for 2019-20) but the same is not true for the corresponding age-specific population the main source of which is the Census & Registrar General of India, the latest Census figures being available for the year 2011.

In the absence of an official projected population based on the 2011 Census, earlier projections based on population up to 2001 are being used by the Ministry of Education to estimate the age-specific population in a year which is adjusted given the total 2011 Census population (details can be seen under the Statistics Section of the Official Website of Department of School Education & Literacy).

Because of the limitations in the projected population, GER and other enrolment-based indicators have been seen off the mark in the past decade which is true for all levels of education. Therefore, the latest GER for 2019-20 and also in the past years, the same must be analyzed in light of these limitations.

With 50 percent GER at the higher education level, the quantum increase of enrolment in absolute terms cannot be known unless the reliable estimate of the population between the age-group  18 to 23 years is known in the year 2035. The GER for the year 2021 based on the actual Census 2021 population when available may reveal the real situation concerning the participation of 18 to 23 years population in higher education programmes; it is likely to show a declining trend because of the ongoing pandemic across the country.

Is 50% GER at Higher Education in 2035 Possible (Detailed Analysis by Prof. Arun C Mehta)

NEP 2020

Selected Publications of Prof. Mona Khare on different Aspects of Higher Education in India

District Institute of Education & Training (DIETs) 

District Institute of Education & Training (DIETs)


In view of the recommendations of the National Policy of Education (NPE, 1986) developed developed under the guidance of then late Prime Minister of India Shri Rajiv Gandhi, District Institute of  Educational Training (DIET) were established across the Country. As of now more than 500+ districts of the country have DIETs. DIETS were established with the prime objectives of imparting training to all concerned officials and is the only institute of its nature at the district level.

During District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), initially DIETs played important role in imparting orientation to teachers and other officers at the block and district level. But with the establishment of Block Resource Centers across all the districts of the country, the basic purpose of establishing DIET forfeited and they have had  become merely an institution engaged in B.Ed and Diploma in Elementary Education programmes.

ll About DIETs: Present Status, Future Prospects & Challenges (2023)

DIETs were supposed to provide academic leadership under the Government of India’s flagship, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme for which each DIET has a provision  of adequate number of faculty positions. Of the different departments,  Planning and Monitoring was supposed to take the lead towards formulation of district plans earlier under the aegis of DPEP and later Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme. But in reality, DIET, except in a few states having separate cadre, like districts in Kerala and Gujarat could play the role as envisaged in the original scheme. Evaluation studies conducted on behalf of the Government of India by NIEPA also confirmed lack of their involvement in district planning and research activities.


Initially DIETs were engaged in the capacity building but the type of programmes it conduct was decided at the states level, mostly by the SCERT in view of which most of the programmes it conducts were not necessarily be need based and as per the requirement of teachers. Because of this, over a period of time DIETs and its programme lost its significance and capacity building was left to the Block Resource Centers which has now become the main agency towards imparting capacity building programmes earlier under the aegis of DPEP, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and now also under the newly integrated Samagra Shiksha (Abhiyan) programme.

District Institute of Education &Training:  An Introduction

While all the inputs listed in the preceding paragraph are crucial, the last two are especially so.  About teachers, the Education Commission (1964-66) had observed, “of all the factors that influence the quality of education… the quality, competence and character of teachers are undoubtedly the most significant”.  But these in turn depend substantially on the quality of training and other support provided to them.  The importance of the last input mentioned in the preceding para viz. academic and resource support-can therefore hardly be over-emphasized.  Until the adoption of the NPE, this support in the area of elementary education was being provided largely at the national and State levels only by institutions like NCERT, NIEPA and SCERTs.  Likewise in the area of adult education, this support was being provided by the Central Directorate of Adult Education at the national level, and by State Resource Centres (SRCs) at the State level.  Below the State level, there were elementary teacher education institutions but their activities were confined mostly to pre-service teacher education.  The physical, human and academic resources of most of the institutions were inadequate even for this limited role.  They also tended to adopt teaching practices, which were not in consonance with the ones they prescribed to prospective teachers.  There were certain larger problems as well e.g. courses of study being outdated.

By the time of adoption of the NPE, elementary and adult education systems were already too vast to be adequately supported by national and State level agencies alone.  The NPE implied their further expansion as also considerable qualitative improvement.  Provision of support to them in a decentralized manner had therefore become imperative.  The NPE and POA accordingly envis
aged addition of a third-district level-tier to the support system in the shape of District institutes of Education and Training (DIETs).  With this, expectation would be of wider quantitative coverage as well as qualitatively better support as these Institutes would be closer to the field, and therefore more alive to its problems and needs.

Pursuant to the provisions of NPE on teacher education, a Centrally sponsored Scheme of Restructuring and Reorganization of Teacher Education was approved in October 1987.  One of the five components of the Scheme was establishment of DIETs.  Draft guidelines for implementing the DIET component were circulated to States in October 1987 and have, together with certain subsequent circulars, formed the basis for its implementation so far.  Till October 1989, Central assistance had been sanctioned under the Scheme for setting up a total of 216 DIETs in the country.

The present document purports to consolidate, amplify and revise the existing guidelines in regard to DIETs.  With this, all earlier guidelines on the subject would stand superseded.

DIETs:  Mission and Role

With the background given in the preceding sections, a DIETs Mission could be briefly stated in the following terms: –

“To provide academic and resource support (vide para 1.5) at the grass-roots level for the success of the various strategies and programmes being undertaken in the areas of elementary and adult education, with special reference to the following objectives: –

Elementary Education

  • Universalisation of Primary/Elementary Education.
  • Adult Education
  • NLM targets in regard to functional literacy in the 15-35 age group.

The above is a general mission statement.  It will have to be translated into specific goals for the DIET, so as to suit the needs of individual states and districts, and will be ultimately operationalised through specific performance norms set for individual DIETs.

DIETs: Pace-setting Role

Pursuit of excellence would have to inform all activities of the DIETs, in which context, it will have two inter-related aspects:-

(i)                  Excellence in the Institute’s own work, and

(ii)                Helping the elementary and adult education systems in the district, in achieving excellence.

As far as the first aspect is concerned, efforts will be made to provide to DIETs all necessary physical and manpower resources.  But it will be for them to harness these and other available resources in the best possible manner, so as to achieve and promote excellence.

In this context, DIETs will also have a very important pace setting role to play.  They will be expected to become models for other educational institutions in the district in terms of meticulous, efficient and effective planning and execution of functions, harmonious and creative organizational climate, maintenance of a clean and attractive campus etc.

DIETs:  Part of a Larger Design

It would be clear from para 1.5 and Annexure .I that DIETs are a part of a larger strategy to achieve national goals in the areas of Elementary and Adult Education.  Various components of the strategy are inter-dependent and mutually reinforcing.  Annexure I also outlines DIETs role in the context of the other components.  DIETs cannot therefore afford to view themselves in isolation, and must faithfully discharge their role of supplementing and complementing other parallel initiatives.

DIETs:  Transactional Philosophy

A DIET will have 3 main functions, viz.

(i)                  Training (both of induction level as well as continuing varieties)

(ii)                Resource support (extension/guidance, development of materials, aids, evaluation tools, etc.) and

(iii)               Action research

This section discusses the basic approach and philosophy to be followed in undertaking these functions, especially training.

Basic Transactional Approach for the DIETs: Placing the Learner at the Centre

The NPE and POA plead for adoption of a Child Centred approach in elementary education.  The relevant portion of NPE reads:

Child Centred Approach

A warm welcoming and encouraging approach, in which all concerned share a solicitude for the needs of the child, is the best motivation for the child to attend school and learn.  A child-centred and activity-based process of learning should be adopted at the primary stage…”

Para 14 of Chapter II of the POA states that “by making Elementary Education child-centred, we would be introducing a long-awaited reform in the system.  The most important aspect of this reform will be to make education a joyful, innovative and satisfying learning activity, rather than a system of role and cheerless, authoritarian instruction”.

In the case of Adult Education Programmes also, it is clear that functional literacy should be imparted to adults in a participative, learner-active mode.

The above statements contained in the NPE and POA have profound implications for programmes of teacher education and training of instructors of adult and non-formal education.  The child or learner centred approach necessitates a fundamental change in the manner of curriculum transaction.  The challenge is an especially daunting one in view of the special characteristics of our system-high pupil-teacher ratio, multi-grade teaching, in-adequate physical facilities, and so on.  The role of the teacher/instructor would now be no longer one of transmitting readymade knowledge to the learner, but, instead, that of a designer and facilitator of learning experiences, a manager of instruction and learning resources, and an active contributor to the all-round development of the learner.

All programmes of pre-service and in-service teacher education and of training AE/NFE personnel in the DIET would be so designed as to train the teacher/instructor in transacting curriculum, keeping the learner at the centre of the teaching-learning process.  If the DIET is to achieve this, it follows that it will have to transact its own programmes in the same learner-centred mode, which it would expect of its trainees.  This basic approach would imbue the transaction of all programmes in a DIET.  Some of the implications of this would be as follows:

  • Programmes will be need based.  Even within group of trainees/participants, individual differences and needs will be identified and catered to.
  • Trainees will be enabled to experiment, discover, learn, practice and innovate for themselves, rather than being lectured to.  Learning activities will be suitably organised, in individual and group modes.
  • Maximum possible use will be made of the local environment in the learning process.  Curricula and learning activities will be suitably related to it.
  • Good work done by trainees will be duly recognised, encouraged, displayed and publicized.
  • The DIET will itself adopt the attitude of a “life-long learner” rather than that of an oracle or know-all.  It would receive as much from the ‘field’ as it would endeavor to give to it.  The district will serve as the ‘school’ for its learning experiences, while it may carve out one or two special areas as its ‘lab areas’.

DIETs: Special Target Groups

“The concept a National System of Education implies that, up to a given level, all students, irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, have access to education of a comparable quality: says the NPE.  It goes on to say “to promote equality, it will be necessary to provide for equal opportunity to all not only in access, but also in the condition for success”.  This is quite the essence of the universalisation task, and means that needs of educationally disadvantaged groups would have to be given maximum attention.  The largest such groups are: –

(i)                  Girls and women

(ii)                Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes

(iii)               Minorities

(iv)              The handicapped, and

(v)                Other educationally disadvantaged groups e.g. working children, slum-dwellers, inhabitants of hilly, desert and other inaccessible areas, etc.

It follows that DIETs also, in all aspect of their work, would have to give primary attention to promotion of education of the above groups.

DIETs: Autonomy and Accountability

Para 10.1 of the NPE says “an overhaul of the system of planning and management of education will receive priority”.  It also says that in this process, two of the “guiding considerations” will be: –

(i)                  “Decentralization and the creation of a spirit of autonomy for educational institutions: and

(ii)                “Establishing the principle of accountability in relation to given objectives and norms”.

In view of the above, DIETs would need to be given adequate functional autonomy-academic, administrative and financial-and would at the same time be accountable laid down objectives and norms.  They would be institutions of the State Government or UT Administration, and will therefore be ultimately answerable to them.  The State government/UT Administration, and will therefore be ultimately answerable to them.  The State Government/UT Administration may exercise its supervisory functions through the SCERT and SRC.

However, the immediate accountability of the DIET will be to the District Board of Education (DBE), which, according to the NPE, is to be created to manage education up to the higher secondary level.  The DBE will set specific goals (in the long, medium and short term) and performance norms for the DIET.  It will do so in consultation; with the Institute, and keeping in view general norms and guidelines lay down at the national and State levels.  It will also review the Institute’s performance vis-à-vis such goals and norms on an ongoing basis.  Till DBEs are set up, State Governments may; designate SCERT/SRC or some other suitable educational authority to perform the DBE’s functions vis-à-vis DIETs.

DIETs: Linkages

Not merely will every DIET establish a close and continuing dialogue with ‘the field’ (i.e. with elementary schools, school complexes, teachers, head masters, school supervisors, Instructors/Supervisors/Project Officers of AE and NFE, and with District level officers in these three sectors), but will also establish officers In these three sectors), but will also establish close linkages with organizations and Institutions at the national, State, Divisional and district levels whose objectives and interests converge with its own.  Some of these institutions would be as follows :-

At the Divisional Level

NGOs, institutions of higher education, secondary teacher education institutions, DRDA, local Radio Station (wherever applicable), etc.

At the Divisional Level

University Dept. of Education, Institution of Advanced Study in education (IASE)*, NGOs and other concerned organisations and institutions.

At State Level

SCERT, SIET, SRC for Adult Education, NGOs

At the National Level

NCERT (including its Regional College within whose jurisdiction the state falls), NIEPA,  Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), Directorate of Adult Education, Central Institute of Indian languages, Mysore, Kendriya Hindi Sansthan , Agra, other premier organisations/institutions and NGOs working in the area of elementary and adult education, etc.In specific terms, the linkages would be established through a meaningful and continuous dialogue in which institutions share problems, experiences, achievements, information and resources.  The diet may also work as an agency for implementing some of the programmes and activities of national and state level organisations.

DIETs to be Non-Vocation, Mainly Residential Institutions

Organisation of in-service programmes for teachers and training programmes for AE/NFE personnel would be one of DIETs main functions.  This activity would go on throughout the year, but would peak during school vacations because that is when the Institute’s resources would be free from the work-load of pre-service training, and also because that would cause minimum dislocation in schools.  Therefore, DIETs will be non-vacation institutions-their personnel would have to be classified as non-vacation staff, and given consequential benefits as per State Governments Rules.

DIETs would also be expected to provide residential facilities to as many of their trainees as may be possible within the resources available for construction hostels. In utilizing available hostel accommodation, first priority shall be given to trainees other than pre-service trainees.  The latter shall be accommodated to the extent possible after accommodation needs of all other training programmes (e.g. in-service programmes for teachers, training programmes for AE/NFE personnel. etc.) have been met.

Functions of a DIET

The context, mission and role of the DIETs have been discussed in the preceding Chapter.  Their functions, as spelt out in the POA, have been quoted in Annex 2.  These could be re-stated as follows:-

(1)               Training and orientation of the following target groups:-

(i)                  Elementary school teachers (both pre-service and in-service education).

(ii)                Head Master, Heads of School Complexes and officers of Education Department up to Block level.

(iii)               Instructors and supervisors of Non-formal and Adult Education (induction level and continuing education)

(iv)              Members of DBE and Village Education Committee (VECs) Community leaders, youth and other volunteers who wish to work as educational activities.

(v)                Resource persons who will conduct suitable programmes for the target groups mentioned at (I) and (iii) above, at centers other than the DIET .

(2)               Academic and resource support to the elementary and adult education systems in the district in other ways e.g. by 9I) extension activities and interaction with the field, 9ii) provision of services of a resource and learning center for teachers and instructors, (iii) development of locally relevant materials teaching aids, evaluation tools etc., and (iv) serving as an evaluation center for elementary school and programmes of NFE/AE.

(3)               Action research and experimentation to deal with specific problems of the district in achieving the objectives in the areas of elementary and adult education.

 Structure of a DIET: Certain General Considerations

Looking to the above functions, a DIET would need to have staff strength in the following areas:

(1)                 Foundations of Education and Pedagogy:

(2)                 The subjects taught at the Elementary stages;  namely

(i)      Languages taught at the elementary level in the district (these may be two, three or even four, depending on the number of language which are introduced in a State at the elementary stage, and factors like bilingual character of a district)

(ii)                Mathematics

(iii)               Environmental Studies –Social Science

(iv)              Environmental Studies –Science

Planning under Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan 2022

Planning under Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan

Since the inception of the District Primary Education Programme in 1994, there is a provision of developing district plans initially for the primary level of education which was later extended to the entire elementary level of education when Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme was launched in 2000-01. At the end of DPEP in 2000, the development of district primary education plans could reach 272 districts across 18 States of the Country but still confined to DPEP states and districts only. Special planning modules developed were extensively been used in developing district plans and the whole exercise is termed as rigorous.

Intensive capacity building programmes were conducted by the apex institutions, such as NIEPA, New Delhi on planning methodology with a focus on hands-on training and data analysis, and use of indicators. There was also a provision of pre-plan activities each of the districts covered under DPEP was supposed to carry out each of the activities proposed in the DPEP framework most of which were followed rigorously. District, as well as State planning teams with representations from all the main streams departments, were constituted both of which used to have intensive discussions on each of the plan components.

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Education Sector in the Union Budget 2022-23

Education Sector in the Union Budget 2022-23, Analysis by Arun C Mehta

Based on the information made available in the Union Budget 2022, an effort has been made to have a look at the budget, actual and revised estimates in case of the allocation made to the Ministry of Education. Needless to mention that the ministry has two departments namely the Department of School Education & Literacy and the Department of Higher Education all the activities of the ministry fall under these two departments.

However, the focus of the present note is more on the School Education Department which plays a pivotal role in ensuring that it sends an adequate number of secondary graduates to the higher education without which the goal of 50 per cent GER as envisaged in NEP 2020 is not likely to be realized by 2030.

Without improving the efficiency of the school education, the higher education sector is not expected to receive an adequate number of secondary graduates because of which the school education department must receive adequate funds to initiate activities as adopted in the NEP 2020.

Click below to read full length article.

Panel meets with some shortlisted candidates for next NCERT chief
Indian Express, January 15, 2022

The committee to select the next director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) held interactions with a few shortlisted candidates on Thursday, sources said. The autonomous body, which assists and advises the government on policies for improvement in school education, has not had a full-time director for more than a year now.

The five-year term of the previous full-time director of the autonomous body, Prof Hrushikesh Senapaty’s, ended in November, 2020. Since then, Prof Sridhar Srivastava has been holding the position as director in-charge.

Sources said Prof Srivastava was among the candidates with whom the search-cum-selection committee held interactions on Thursday. The other candidates include head of the NCERT’s Department of Education in Social Sciences, Dr Gouri Srivastava, and the principal of the Bhubaneswar Regional Institute of Education (RIE), Prof PC Agarwal. The RIE is a constituent unit of the NCERT.

Latest Educational News from Centre Square Foundation Weekly Newsletter

 August 13, 2021

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Review of EMIS in Ghana, Cambodia, Iraq, Nepal & Southern-Sudan 2022

Review of EMIS in Ghana, Cambodia, Iraq, Nepal & Southern-Sudan

In view of progress made in India towards strengthening Educational Management Information System in India, a number of countries including Ghana, Sothern Sudan and Cambodia invited Prof. Arun C Mehta, Formally Professor & Head of the Department of EMIS, NIEPA, New Delhi to review their EMIS. Prof. Mehta while at NIEPA, New Delhi visited these countries, had intensive discussions on different aspects of EMIS and presented Mission Report to authorities many  recommendations of which were implemented.

Read  Complete Mission Report here

Under the leadership of Prof. Mehta, DISE-UDISE were developed in India which significantly addressed limitations in the EMIS which later awarded numerous national and regional awards including  e-Governance, eINDIA, Manthan Shttp://www.udise.inouth Asia and EMPI Indian Express Innovation Awards.

Strengthening Educational Management Information System in India through U-DISE(A Story of its Evolution)