Estimates of Overage and Underage Children at School Level

Arun C. Mehta


A number of estimates of over-age, under-age and total grossness at the Primary, Upper-primary and Elementary levels of education have been identified in the present survey, most of which are available either at the national and/or at the state level, only few are available at the district level. In order to workout the number of children out-side the prescribed age-group information on under-age and over-age children is required but the available estimates cannot be used directly at block, district and state level because of the methodology used in generating information on which the estimates are based vary from source to source.

At the elementary level, the most authentic source of grossness is the MOE estimate which is based on the actual age-grade matrix but the same is available up to the year 1970-71, after that the series was discontinued, however, the estimate is available both at the state and national level.

Using the MOE age-grade data during the period 1950 to 1970 and by employing method of least squares, Kurrien (1983) estimated 22 per cent as an amount of grossness at the Primary level and 39.5 per cent at the Upper-primary level. The next estimate of grossness that is also based on the complete enumeration of educational institutions like the MOE estimate, is the NCERT estimate but that too is available occasionally, 1986-87 being the latest one. The estimate is based on survey data that provides age-grade matrix only at the national level and no information is available at the state level. Kurrien estimate of 22 per cent at Primary level is amply supported by the MOE and NCERT estimates. NIEPA and NSSO provide such estimates a number of other estimates based on sample survey techniques are also available.

As a part of UNESCO sponsored project on use of sample survey techniques in educational statistics, NIEPA conducted a survey in 1992 which is based on four states consisting of six districts. Due to size of the sample used in the survey and also due to non-inclusion of states from other regions of the country, the estimate of grossness cannot be generalized at the national and even at the state level. In an another national survey for monitoring of UEE, which is also conducted by NIEPA in 1992, all the states and union territories of the country are covered. The survey is based on a large number of institutions covering all the educational blocks of the country but it provide estimate of over-age and under-age children in Grade-V only which cannot be compared with other available estimates, also total grossness at the Primary level cannot be computed, hence of no use in the present context.

The estimates of over-age and under-age children are also referred and used in working group on early childhood and elementary education (1989), eighth five year plan document (1992) and EFA document (1993) of MHRD but are available only at the national level. While the working group used 22 per cent as an estimate of total grossness at all the levels of education, the eighth plan used only 15 per cent compared to 25 per cent referred in EFA document of MHRD. Also, no reference has been given on the basis of which the estimates are computed. Hence, the estimates can be best used at the national level only.

The next estimate, which is available separately for rural and urban areas, is NSSO estimate based on the household survey conducted during 1986-87. Like NCERT estimate, it is also available only at a single point of time and that too at the national level only, hence no time-series can be built up. The NSSO estimates compares well with MOE and NCERT estimates especially at the Primary level, however, a significant difference has been noticed at the Upper-primary level. Thus, MOE estimates at the state level and NCERT and NSSO estimates are left for use at the national level. However, these estimates are too outdated to use but in the absence of latest data, there is no option but to use the available estimates in whatsoever form they are available.

Further, it has also been noticed that enrolment targets at the state level provided in eighth plan document when added together do not matches well with the targets fixed at the national level and have been found to be higher than targets at the national level and the deviation is significant. The deviation noticed is 0.58, 1.81 and 1.23 crore 9 1 crore =10 million) respectively for Primary, Upper-primary and Elementary levels of education, hence pro-rata adjustment is required which means the estimate of grossness at the national level should not be applied at the state level. At the micro level, specially at the block and district level, where setting of targets is an important task needs information on over-age and under-age children. The available estimates of over-age and under-age children of the national level cannot be used at the micro-level, for that purpose, a survey at the local level would be most appropriate to conduct.

The eighth plan estimate of 15 per cent over-age and under- age children at the Upper-primary level is supported only by NSSO estimate, compared to which the MOE and NCERT estimates are 40.26 and 24.82 per cent respectively. Thus, it has been noticed that at all levels, the estimate used in EFYP document to fix the targets is found to be under-estimated and if the estimate is revised in the light of MOE or NSSO estimates, the targets would change dramatically. Also, the methodology used in working group estimates is not conventional and generally being used to fix the targets. Instead of adjusting enrolment figures, population estimates itself at the flat rate of 15 per cent have been adjusted which is by logic incorrect.

Further, it has been noticed that the EFYP targets are based on enrolment data up to the year 1989-90, if enrolment up to year 1991-92 is considered and targets are re-fixed, there would be a further jump in number of additional children needs to be enrolled during the plan period. The alternative targets computed during the period 1992-97 show that about 3.20, 4.21 and 7.36 crore (10 million = 1 crore) additional population needs to be enrolled compared to 2.02, 3.59 and 5.61 crore estimated in EFYP document which is higher by 58.42, 17.27 and 31.19 per cent. The results also show that the number of girls need to be enrolled during the same period is more than boys by 0.97, 1.80 and 2.73 crore respectively at Primary, Upper primary and Elementary levels of education which means more rigorous efforts in years which follows.

Forty Years of Arun C Mehta at NIEPA: 1980 to 2019 (e-Book)

Forty years of Arun C Mehta at NIEPA: 1980 to 2019

Times of India, New Delhi, 21st September 2021

UDISE, Interview of Prof. Arun C Mehta in Times of India, New Delhi, 21st September 2021