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

 

A Detailed Analysis of Decline in Number of Schools Covered under UDISE+ 2019-20
Are we moving towards privatisation of School Education?

By Arun C Mehta
Formerly Professor & Head of EMIS Department
NIEPA, New Delhi
Email Id: acmehta100@gmail.com

Background

 Because of the limitations in the educational statistics, at the time of initiating the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) in 1994-95, the Ministry of Education, Government of India decided to develop a computerized educational management information system with the school as the unit of data collection and district as the unit of data dissemination and the task to develop such as system was assigned to NIEPA, New Delhi which joined hands with the UNICEF and contributed all through the period 1994-95 to 2017-18. It was only the year  2018-19 onwards that the renamed UDISE+ is being managed by the NIC and located in the Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Education but the first of its publication was released on 1st July 2021 by the then Minister of Education under the title, UDISE+ 2019-20 Report even failed to mention the national institutions which brought the earlier defunct school education statistics managed by the none other than the Ministry of Education to this level which practically has overcome most of the limitations in Educational Statistics in India.

At the time, when UDISE was managed by the NIEPA, New Delhi the time-lag in the educational statistics was brought to less than a year at the national level and the Annual Work Plan & Budget under the age-sis of Sarva/Samagra  Shiksha Abhiyan was being formulated on currents years data both of which have now been forfeited badly. Other achievements of NIEPA towards strengthening EMIS are also fading and fast becoming history. The year 2021-22 annual plans have recently been formulated based on the outdated 2019-20 data unfortunately which is also the latest data. At the time of writing this note, the process of data collection for 2020-21 is in progress and the moot question is in which year’s annual plan, data of 2020-21 will be used. Annual plan exercises are now based on stale data, the allegation which was made on UDISE to gain its control from the national institutions which were also alleged not having expertise. UDISE at NIEPA used to bring out a set of 15 publications in a year all of which has now been discontinued along with the updating of the numerous award-winning internationally acclaimed websites including the schoolreportcards.in.

The Present Article

 While How much we gain: A Case of UDISE+ is separately been documented, in this note, we confine to coverage of UDISE+ in terms of the number of schools covered during the period 2017-18 to 2019-20. The analysis is presented both at the all-India and wherever required, state level and also in the rural and urban areas. Data has been obtained from the official websites and is available in the public domain.

Coverage: Total Number of Schools

The total number of schools covered under UDISE during the period 2017-18 to 2019-20 presented in Table 1 reveals that the same has significantly and consistently declined from an all-time high of 15,58,903 schools in 2017-18 to a low 15,07,708 schools covered during 2019-20 data collection which shows that the latest data is based on a more than 51 thousand less number of schools than in the year 2017-18. In the percentage terms, the number of schools covered in 2019-20 was fewer by more than 3 per cent of schools covered in 2017-18. It may be recalled that 2018-19 was the first year from which UDISE is being managed by the NIC & Department of School Education & Literacy during which about 8 thousand fewer schools were covered than in the previous year i.e. 2017-18. The latest 2019-20 UDISE data could cover only 15,07,708 schools which is fewer than 43,292 schools than the same covered in 2018-19; in percentage terms 2019-20 it was 2.8 per cent of the schools covered during the previous year. Under coverage of schools in recent years may be due to different reasons. Further, we also undertake analysis of schools by school category, management, and its rural and urban distribution all of which reveal interesting information about coverage. Before that, we undertake an analysis of the state-wise number of schools covered under UDISE during the same period: 2017-18 to 2019-20 which is presented in Table 2.

Is it because of the decline in the number of schools by 43,292 in 2019-20, the Report of the UDISE+ 2019-20 published recently (July 2021) even didn’t mention it and nowhere in the document, like enrolment & teachers present the comparison of the same with the previous year’s figures i.e. 2018-19? It is expected that the managers of UDISE+ i.e. the Department of School Education & Literacy will furnish the explanation of the significant decline in the number of schools covered under UDISE+ ever since it has assumed the responsibility of the same. Rather, it has shed its responsibility by mentioning The Ministry of Education, therefore, assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the data and indicators reported in the document” under the disclaimer.

Table 1: Number of Schools (All Schools)

Year Total Number

of Schools

Increase/Decrease %age Change
2017-18 15,58,903
2018-19 15,51,000 – 7,903 – 0.5
2019-20 15,07,708 – 43,292 – 2.8
2017-18 to 2019-20   – 51,195 – 3.3

Source: UDISE & UDISE+, different years. From 1994-95 to 2017-18, DISE/UDISE was maintained by NIEPA, New Delhi, and thereafter by the Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Education, Government of India.

Table 2: State-wise Number of Schools: 2017-18 to 2019-20

State/UT 2017-18 2018-19 Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

2019-20 Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

Change Over

2017-18 to 2019-20

%age

Change

A & N Islands 417 414 -3 -0.7 418 4 1.0 1 0.2
Andhra Pradesh 63633 63621 -12 0.0 63824 203 0.3 191 0.3
Arunachal Pradesh 4061 3793 -268 -6.6 3666 -127 -3.3 -395 -9.7
Assam 70078 66324 -3754 -5.4 65907 -417 -0.6 -4171 -6.0
Bihar 88233 89224 991 1.1 90275 1051 1.2 2042 2.3
Chandigarh 225 229 4 1.8 229 0 0.0 4 1.8
Chhattisgarh 56184 56274 90 0.2 56303 29 0.1 119 0.2
D & N  Haveli 346 346 0 0.0 346 0 0.0 0 0.0
Daman & Diu 143 140 -3 -2.1 137 -3 -2.1 -6 -4.2
Delhi 5723 5703 -20 -0.3 5669 -34 -0.6 -54 -0.9
Goa 1525 1486 -39 -2.6 1482 -4 -0.3 -43 -2.8
Gujarat 54141 54581 440 0.8 54629 48 0.1 488 0.9
Haryana 23235 23534 299 1.3 23699 165 0.7 464 2.0
Himachal Pradesh 18295 18212 -83 -0.5 18185 -27 -0.1 -110 -0.6
Jammu & Kashmir* 29335 29708 373 1.3 29917 209 0.7 582 2.0
Jharkhand 49530 45908 -3622 -7.3 45596 -312 -0.7 -3934 -7.9
Karnataka 77076 78233 1157 1.5 77166 -1067 -1.4 90 0.1
Kerala 17013 16701 -312 -1.8 16665 -36 -0.2 -348 -2.0
Lakshadweep 45 45 0 0.0 45 0 0.0 0 0.0
Madhya Pradesh 153593 154064 471 0.3 133379 -20685 -13.4 -20214 -13.2
Maharashtra 110315 109942 -373 -0.3 110229 287 0.3 -86 -0.1
Manipur 4812 4844 32 0.7 4663 -181 -3.7 -149 -3.1
Meghalaya 14736 14669 -67 -0.5 14730 61 0.4 -6 0.0
Mizoram 3919 3913 -6 -0.2 3924 11 0.3 5 0.1
Nagaland 2839 2752 -87 -3.1 2758 6 0.2 -81 -2.9
Orissa 69209 68717 -492 -0.7 67020 -1697 -2.5 -2189 -3.2
Puducherry 733 739 6 0.8 741 2 0.3 8 1.1
Punjab 28926 28637 -289 -1.0 28775 138 0.5 -151 -0.5
Rajasthan 105514 105883 369 0.3 106240 357 0.3 726 0.7
Sikkim 1300 1290 -10 -0.8 1277 -13 -1.0 -23 -1.8
Tamil Nadu 58474 59152 678 1.2 58897 -255 -0.4 423 0.7
Telangana 42834 42355 -479 -1.1 42575 220 0.5 -259 -0.6
Tripura 4928 4945 17 0.3 4940 -5 -0.1 12 0.2
Uttar Pradesh 275286 273235 -2051 -0.7 254352 -18883 -6.9 -20934 -7.6
Uttarakhand 24273 23559 -714 -2.9 23295 -264 -1.1 -978 -4.0
West Bengal 97974 97828 -146 -0.1 95755 -2073 -2.1 -2219 -2.3
Total 1558903 1551000 -7903 -0.5 1507708 -43292 -2.8 -51195 -3.3

*Including Ladakh
Source: UDISE, different years.

State-wise Number of Schools

A glance at the state-wise number of schools covered UDISE + 2019-20 reveals that as many as 18 states reported a decline in the total number of schools over the previous year as against 21 states which have shown a decline during the period 2017-18 & 2018-19. In about 12 states, the per cent decline was more than a percentage point during the same period. The highest 13.4 per cent decline is observed in Madhya Pradesh which in the absolute number is as high as 20,685 schools which is considered huge. Madhya Pradesh is followed by Uttar Pradesh in terms of percentage (6.9 per cent) but in the absolute number, the decline in the number of schools covered in 2019-20 was as high as 18,883 schools. Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Lakshadweep are the only three states which have shown no decline in the number of schools covered in 2019-20 all of which are in small size and has only a few schools compared to other states. In another three states, namely Karnataka (1,067 schools, -1.4 per cent), Odisha (1,697 schools, -2.5 per cent), and West Bengal (2,073 schools, -2.1 per cent) the decline in the number of schools was in the tune of four digits.

The number of schools during the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20 further reveals that in as many as 22 states, the number of schools in 2019-20 is observed to be declined from its 2017-18 level and the number of such schools at the all-India level, as reported above is in the tune of 51,195 schools which is 3.3 per cent of total schools covered in 2017-18. In the case of five states, namely Assam (4,171 schools, – 6.0 per cent), Jharkhand (3,834 schools, -7.9 per cent),  Madhya Pradesh (20,214 schools, -13.2 per cent), Odisha (2,189 schools, -3.2 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (20,934 schools, -7.6 per cent) and West Bengal (2,219 schools, -2.3 per cent), the number of schools in 2019-20 is fewer by more than two thousand schools which range between 2,189 schools in Odisha to  20,934 schools to Uttar Pradesh. Why has the number of schools covered under UDISE+ declined ever since the same was taken over by the Department of School & Literacy or is it because of the merger of schools to make the school composite one? Is the decline limited to private unaided schools or whether the government and aided schools have also been declined answers of all of which are explored in the following paragraphs? On the one hand, the number of schools is declined in the majority of states which is confined to both small as well as major states, on the other hand, a few states, such as D & N Haveli and Lakshadweep didn’t see any decline all through the period 2017-18 to 2019-20. Bihar (2,042 schools, 2.3 per cent), Gujarat (488 schools, 0.9 per cent), Haryana (464 schools, 0.2 schools), Jammu & Kashmir (582 schools, 0.2 per cent), Rajasthan (726 schools, 0.7 per cent), and Tamil Nadu (423 schools, 0.7 per cent) all see a slight increase in coverage of school during the same period. The moot question is whether the merger of schools didn’t take place in these states. Within these states, barring Tamil Nadu all remaining five states, including Bihar have shown a consistent increase in the number of schools covered during the same period.

 Rural & Urban Distribution of Schools

The rural and urban distribution of schools covered under UDISE during the period 2017-18 to 2019-20 presented in Table 3 reveals that more than 84 out of 100 schools are located in the rural areas (83.5 per cent), urban areas (16.5 per cent) have only 16 out of 100 such schools.  Further, it has been observed that the coverage in terms of schools in the rural areas has consistently declined from a high of 13,11,976 schools in 2017-18 to 13,04,715 schools in 2018-19 and further to 12,58,347 schools in the latest year i.e. 2019-20; thus showing a decline to the tune of 7,261 (-0.6 per cent), 46,368 (-3.6 per cent) and 53,629 schools (-4.1 per cent) respectively during the period 2017-18 to 2018-19, 2018-19 to 2019-20 and 2017-18 to 2019-20. During the same period, the number of schools covered in the urban areas has increased from 2,46,927 schools in 2017-18 to 2,49,361 schools in 2019-20. Further, it is observed that of the total decline of 43,292 schools in 2019-20, practically every school declined is located in the rural areas (46,368 schools, – 4.1 per cent) as against an increase of 3,076 schools +1.2 per cent) in the urban areas.  Both the rural and urban areas together show a decline of 51,195 schools in 2019-20 which is -3.3 per cent of total schools covered in 2017-18. Huge coverage of fewer schools than in the past year must have some valid reason but the UDISE+ 2019-20 Report failed to present details of the same less even mentioning the significant decline in the number of schools covered.

 Table 3: Rural & Urban Distribution of Schools, 2017-18 to 2019-20

Year Rural %age Urban %age All Areas
2017-18 1311976 84.2 246927 15.8 1558903
2018-19 1304715 84.1 246285 15.9 1551000
2019-20 1258347 83.5 249361 16.5 1507708
Increase/Decrease 2018-19 -7261 -642 -7903
%age Increase -0.6 -0.3 -0.5
Increase/Decrease 2019-20 -46368 3076 -43292
%age Increase -3.6 1.2 -2.8
Increase/Decrease 2017-18 to 2019-20 -53629 2434 -51195
%age Increase -4.1 1.0 -3.3

Source: UDISE, different years.

Rural & Urban Distribution of Schools by School Category

The rural & urban distribution of schools by type of school category reveals that the number of schools covered in 2019-20 is observed to be fewer in the case of five categories in the rural areas compared to the same in four categories in the urban areas. It may be recalled that there are ten types of school categories which are been maintained ever since the year 2012-13 during which the entire country got covered under the DISE for the first time and data was collected by using one Data Capture Format. DISE since then is known as Unified-DISE or popularly as UDISE.

The ten school categories consisting of corresponding grades are Grades I to V, I to VIII, I to XII, VI to VIII, VI to XII, I to X, VI to X, IX to X, IX to XII, and XI to XII. Both in the rural and the urban areas, the decline in the number of schools is observed in I to V, VI to VIII, IX to X, and IX to XII in addition to which the number of high schools consisting of Grades VI to X has also declined in the rural areas. In addition, the number of schools with Grades VI to X has also shown a decline in the rural areas against which the urban areas have shown a slight increase of 242 schools during the same period. Further, it may be recalled that the rural areas have shown a huge decline in the number of schools (46,368 schools, -3.6 per cent) but in the reality, the actual number of schools declined is much higher than it as there was an increase in a few school categories which is in the tune of 41,481 schools. In reality, the actual number of decline in schools in the rural areas is in the tune of 88,191 schools majority of which is confined to primary (Grades I to V) only schools (45,804 schools, -6.1 per cent) followed by upper primary (38, 751 schools, -29.3 per cent), secondary (2,117 schools, -7.7 per cent) and higher secondary (1,276 schools, -7.2 per cent) schools. During the same period, overall the coverage of schools in the urban areas has increased by 3,076 schools which is 1.2 per cent of the total schools in the previous year. However, in the urban areas, the total decline is to the tune of 5,886 schools in 2019-20 0ver the previous year. The brief analysis reveals that the decline in both the rural and urban areas is confined only to a few school categories amongst which primary and upper primary schools are the most prominent ones. On the other hand, elementary (Grades I to VIII) and higher secondary (I to XII) schools are the main categories both in the rural as well as urban areas which have shown an increase in the number of the schools in 2019-20. Is it because of the merger of the primary and upper primary schools into the elementary schools but the number doesn’t exactly match which indicates that a few schools might have closed down?

 

Table 4: Percentage Change in Number of Schools between 2018-19 & 2019-20 & its Rural & Urban Distribution

School

Category

Rural Urban All Areas
Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

Increase/

Decrease

%age Change Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

PS (I-V) -45804 -6.1 -2336 -2.9 -48140 -5.8
UPS (I-VIII) 36709 15.8 4716 6.9 41425 13.8
HSS (I-XII) 1904 5.5 1533 7.2 3437 6.1
UPS (VI-VIII) -38751 -29.3 -2423 -23.0 -41174 -28.8
HSS (VI-XII) 1058 4.0 497 6.1 1555 4.5
SS (I-X) 1810 4.2 1852 7.3 3662 5.4
SS (VI-X) -243 -0.6 242 2.4 -1 0.0
SS (IX-X) -2117 -7.7 -659 -9.4 -2776 -8.1
HSS (IX-XII) -1276 -7.2 -438 -7.3 -1714 -7.2
HSS (XI-XII) 342 4.5 92 1.2 434 2.8
Total -46368 -3.6 3076 1.2 -43292 -2.8

Source: UDISE+, different years.

Further, the state-wise change in the number of schools in the case of the selected categories presented in the Table 5 reveals that the coverage of the primary schools (I to V) declined by a huge 61,858 schools which is 7.4 per cent of the same in the previous year i.e. 2018-19. Except, in the case of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh and Lakshadweep, all the remaining States & UTs, the UDISE+ 2019-20 data is based on fewer primary schools than in  2018-19 and

Table 5: Percentage Change in Number of Schools between 2018-19 & 2019-20

All States, Selected Categories

States/UTs Primary Schools

(I to V)

Elementary Schools

(I to VIII)

Upper Primary

Schools

(VI to VIII)

All Schools
Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

A & N Islands 4 1.8 -4 -5.1 0 0.0 4 1.0
Andhra Pradesh -1742 -4.2 1254 15.6 -148 -96.7 203 0.3
Arunachal Pradesh -349 -15.4 208 20.5 -12 -18.2 -127 -3.3
Assam -559 -1.2 109 2.7 -162 -2.1 -417 -0.6
Bihar -1152 -2.6 1022 2.8 -23 -8.1 1051 1.2
Chandigarh 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 0.0
Chhattisgarh -307 -0.9 196 6.8 -62 -0.5 29 0.1
D & N Haveli -2 -1.2 2 1.5 0 0.0 0 0.0
Daman & Diu -1 -2.0 0 0.0 -2 -5.3 -3 -2.1
Delhi -44 -1.6 -5 -0.6 0 0.0 -34 -0.6
Goa -9 -1.0 4 8.2 -7 -50.0 -4 -0.3
Gujarat -133 -1.1 -76 -0.3 -34 -4.0 48 0.1
Haryana -189 -1.9 62 2.0 -53 -2.2 165 0.7
Himachal Pradesh -121 -1.1 34 4.4 -38 -1.9 -27 -0.1
Jammu & Kashmir -102 -0.7 98 1.0 -36 -21.3 209 0.7
Jharkhand -652 -2.6 87 0.5 -54 -46.2 -312 -0.7
Karnataka -1423 -5.4 11 0.0 -496 -50.5 -1067 -1.4
Kerala -1021 -12.6 794 24.4 -1467 -69.3 -36 -0.2
Lakshadweep 0 0.0 -1 -6.7 1 0 0.0
Madhya Pradesh -20284 -22.9 16556 91.0 -17170 -57.2 -20685 -13.4
Maharashtra -1243 -2.3 308 1.0 -56 -30.6 287 0.3
Manipur -390 -13.8 102 11.3 -20 -32.3 -181 -3.7
Meghalaya -10 -0.1 38 19.5 -18 -0.5 61 0.4
Mizoram -54 -3.5 50 12.6 -14 -1.3 11 0.3
Nagaland -92 -7.2 77 11.0 -10 -28.6 6 0.2
Orissa -1981 -5.6 357 1.9 -378 -12.6 -1697 -2.5
Puducherry -9 -3.1 1 1.3 0 0.0 2 0.3
Punjab -166 -1.2 91 3.7 -25 -0.9 138 0.5
Rajasthan -1511 -3.7 986 2.8 -33 -13.3 357 0.3
Sikkim -37 -5.0 9 3.0 -1 -100.0 -13 -1.0
Tamilnadu -465 -1.3 -70 -0.7 -22 -18.5 -255 -0.4
Telangana -1194 -5.4 678 10.0 -131 -100.0 220 0.5
Tripura -29 -1.1 1 0.1 0 0.0 -5 -0.1
Uttar Pradesh -24394 -15.0 27389 168.1 -23767 -37.2 -18883 -6.9
Uttarakhand -431 -3.0 203 9.7 -111 -3.4 -264 -1.1
West Bengal -1766 -2.3 -151 -9.2 -213 -2.8 -2073 -2.1
Total -61858 -7.4 50420 17.3 -44562 -30.5 -43292 -2.8

Source: UDISE+, different years. Note: Apart from these three categories, there are seven more school categories. For reasons not known the total number of schools presented above in case of a few categories don’t match well with the same at the all-India level presented above.

the size of the decline in coverage is in the tune of 61,858 schools (-7.4 per cent). It may be recalled that both Madhya Pradesh (20,685 schools, -13.4 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (18,863 schools, -6.9 per cent) experienced a huge decline in the total number of schools  (all categories) in 2019-20 which is more than 91 per cent of the total decline in the number of schools which otherwise means that 9 out of every 10 schools declined is in these two states.

Further, it has been observed that like primary schools, upper primary schools consisting of Grades VI to VIII have also shown a steep decline in the number of schools covered in 2019-20 UDISE+ data collection which is fewer by 44,562 schools or 30.5 per cent of such schools in 2018-19. It is generally believed that a decline in the coverage of schools in 2019-20 is because of the merger of schools to make them composite schools but the same is not reflected in the corresponding elementary schools consisting of Grades I to VIII in which primary and upper primary schools are supposed to have been merged. Except in a few states, the decline in the number of schools does not suggest that it is only because of the merger of the schools as the increase in the number of elementary schools doesn’t match well with the corresponding decline in primary and upper primary schools. As against a total decline of 61,858 primary schools (-7.4 per cent) and 44,562 upper primary schools (-30.5 per cent) schools, coverage of elementary schools increased only by 50,420 schools (17.3 per cent).  It may also be possible that schools having VI to VIII grades don’t necessarily be merged into the elementary schools; a few of them might have merged into the high school located on the same campus or located in the nearby areas. Madhya Pradesh which has experienced the highest decline in the number of schools has merged schools that are located on the same campus and has also converted a few schools into composite schools. At least the UDISE+ 2019-20 report should have discussed the actual reasons behind the decline in schools along with the state-specific reasons in the absence of which the decline may be simply be treated as UDISE+2019-20 is based on fewer schools than in the previous year.

Schools by Management

Table 6 presents the number of schools covered under UDISE 2017-18 to 2019-20 by management along with the increase/decrease in a year and percentage change over the previous year. Both the schools managed by the government as well as private management including unaided and unrecognized schools have been presented. The decline in the number of schools further shows that the decline is mostly confined to schools being managed by the government managements amongst which schools managed by the Department of Education is the most prominent one. It may be observed that the number of schools managed by the Department of Education increased by 18,450 (2.3 per cent) in 2018-19 over the previous year i.e. 2017-18 against which the same has shown a steep decline during the next year i.e. 2019-20 and the decline is in the tune of 50,382 schools (6.0 per cent) which is 6 per cent less than the number of schools covered in UDISE+ 2018-19.  The steep decline in the number of schools managed by the Department of education is a serious cause of concern and needs explanation about the actual reason behind the decline.

Scrutiny of  number of schools by management further reveals that the number of schools under the Local Body management in 2018-19 was declined by 29,250 schools which is 13 per cent of the total such school in the previous year i.e. 2017-18. The same has further declined by 490 schools in 2019-20. On the one hand, schools managed by the Department of Education has shown a steep decline in 2019-20 on the other hand decline in school under the Local Body management is a serious cause of concern. On the other hand, it has been observed a significant increase in the number of private unaided schools and the increase is to the tune of 11,271 schools (3.5 per cent) alone in 2019-20 in addition to which the same was increased by 4,027 schools (1.2 per cent) in 2018-19.

Table 6: Change in Number of Schools in 2019-20 over 2018-19, All India

School

Management

2017-18 2018-19 Increase/

Decrease

%age Change 2019-20 Increase/

Decrease

%age Decline
Department of Education 817038 835488 18450 2.3 785106 -50382 -6.0
Tribal Welfare Department 45077 45409 332 0.7 46279 870 1.9
Local Body 225780 196530 -29250 -13.0 196040 -490 -0.2
Government Aided 84420 84623 203 0.2 84362 -261 -0.3
Private Unaided (Recognized) 322201 326228 4027 1.2 337499 11271 3.5
Other Govt. managed Schools 2750 1322 -1428 -51.9 939 -383 -29.0
Unrecognized 32916 32366 -550 -1.7 29600 -2766 -8.5
Social Welfare Department 1626 2413 787 48.4 1717 -696 -28.8
Ministry of Labor 195 356 161 82.6 353 -3 -0.8
Kendriya Vidyalaya / Central School 1435 1566 131 9.1 1259 -307 -19.6
Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya 486 505 19 3.9 626 121 24.0
Sainik School 71 64 -7 -9.9 67 3 4.7
Railway School 74 80 6 8.1 85 5 6.3
Central Tibetan School 11 14 3 27.3 16 2 14.3
Madarsa Recognized

(By Wakf Board/Madarsa Board)

19354 19150 -204 -1.1 19538 388 2.0
Madarsa Unrecognized 5469 4886 -583 -10.7 4139 -747 -15.3
Other Central Government Schools 0 83 83
Total 1558903 1551000 -7903 -0.5 1507708 -43292 2.8

Source: UDISE, different years.

 In addition to schools managed by the government and private managements, UIDSE also covers unrecognized schools and madarsa both of which have also declined recently. Overall, as reported above UDISE+ 2019-20 is based on 43,292 schools fewer than the same in 2018-19 which is 2.8 per cent of the total schools covered in the previous year. Is the decline in schools under the Department of Education is across the board to examine the same we have also analyzed the number of schools under this management by school category? Before that number of schools by type of schools is presented in Table 7.

Number of Schools by Type

 The number of schools by type presented in Table 7 reveals that the decline is confined to only five out of the ten categories. Boys, co-educational, and girls are the three types of schools for which distribution of schools is available under UDISE. Further, it has been observed that most of the decline is confined to either primary or upper primary or higher secondary schools but affected the co-educational institutions the most. Table 7 further reveals that of the total number of schools declined during 2019-20 (43,292 schools), 89.70  per cent (38,832 schools) alone are co-educational schools and the remaining 4.54 per cent (1,966 schools) are boys and 5.76 per cent (2,494 schools) girls schools. The number of schools declined to any school category may not add up to the total number of schools declined (42,292 schools) because a few of the remaining school categories; like elementary schools have shown an increase in the number of schools covered during the same period. Users may get confused the way UDISE-plus has given names of the school categories, for example, schools having Grades I to VIII and VI to VIII both are termed as upper primary schools. Needless to mention that schools having Grades I to VIII are traditionally termed elementary schools in India.

Table 7: Percentage Change in Number of Schools between 2018-19 & 2019-20 by Type of Schools

 

Type of

School

Boys Co-Educational Girls Total Schools
Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

Increase/

Decrease

%age

Change

PS (I-V) -1383 -23.8 -45050 -5.5 -1707 -24.2 -48140 -5.8
UPS (I-VIII) 58 2.5 41138 13.9 229 7.1 41425 13.8
HSS (I-XII) 75 14.2 3197 5.9 165 10.8 3437 6.1
UPS (VI-VIII) -722 -38.4 -39305 -29.1 -1147 -19.4 -41174 -28.8
HSS (VI-XII) 58 3.0 1198 4.1 299 7.7 1555 4.5
SS (I-X) 72 8.2 3567 5.4 23 1.4 3662 5.4
SS (VI-X) -18 -2.2 193 0.4 -176 -4.5 -1 0.0
SS (IX-X) -8 -3.3 -2732 -8.3 -36 -2.9 -2776 -8.1
HSS (IX-XII) -121 -17.5 -1387 -6.6 -206 -9.9 -1714 -7.2
HSS (XI-XII) 23 17.6 349 2.4 62 6.4 434 2.8
Total -1966 -12.9 -38832 -2.6 -2494 -7.9 -43292 -2.8
Source: UDISE, different years.

Of the total decline of 48,140 primary schools, 45,050 schools (93.58 per cent) alone are co-educational as against 1,383 (2.87  per cent) boys schools and the remaining 1,707 (3.55  per cent), girls schools. Quite a similar pattern is also observed in the case of upper primary schools which is declined by 41,174 schools of which 95.46 per cent (39,305 schools) alone are co-educational schools. Further, it has been observed that both in terms of absolute and percentage terms, the number of girls schools declined is a bit lower than boys schools. As many as 3,272 fewer girls’ schools were covered under UDISE 2019-20 compared to 778 more girls schools were added but confined to only four categories. In addition to primary and upper primary schools, a good number of secondary schools consisting of Grades IX & X (2732 schools) and higher secondary schools (Grades  IX to XII, 1387 schools) have also declined all of which are co-educational; these schools are 8.3 and 6.6 per cent of the total decline in co-educational schools.

As mentioned above, we now analyze the decline in the number of schools in the case of primary, upper primary, etc schools under the Department of Education and Private managements.

Table 8: Number of Schools declined by Category under DoE & Private Unaided Management, 2018-19 & 2019-20

School

Category

 

Department of Education Private Unaided
2019 2018 Change

over 2018

%age

Change

2019 2018 Change

over 2018

%age Change
PS (I-V) 474781 523383 -48602 -9.29 89517 98023 -8506 -8.68
UPS (I-VIII) 151482 114112 37370 32.75 107315 95263 12052 12.65
HSS (I-XII) 15713 12674 3039 23.98 35174 29501 5673 19.23
UPS (VI-VIII) 66024 108196 -42172 -38.98 16673 17257 -584 -3.38
HSS (VI-XII) 21281 19463 1818 9.34 6879 6212 667 10.74
SS (I-X) 16244 17128 -884 -5.16 43495 40600 2895 7.13
SS (VI-X) 16335 17089 -754 -4.41 11295 13404 -2109 -15.73
SS (IX-X) 11986 11580 406 3.51 9083 8568 515 6.01
HSS (IX-XII) 8942 9448 -506 -5.36 7624 7724 -100 -1.29
HSS (XI-XII) 2318 2415 -97 -4.02 10444 9676 768 7.94
Total 785106 835488 -50382 -6.03 337499 326228 11271 3.45

DoE: Department of Education

Source: UDISE+ different years.

The Number of Schools by Category: DoE & Private Unaided Managements

As has already been presented above the decline in the number of schools covered in UDISE-plus 2019-20 over the previous year is mainly confined to the Department of Education. Contrary to which, on the other hand, schools managed by the private unaided managements during the same period has shown significant increase because of which it has become essential to know more about school categories those who have decreased or increased.  As has already been reported that the total number of schools covered under the Department of Education was declined by 50,382 schools as compared to an increase of 11,271 schools under the private unaided managements. The number of schools declined under the Department of Education is confined to six out of ten school categories and in the rest, two out of four categories, the decline in the number of schools is steep which is to the tune of 48,602 schools in case of primary and 42,172 schools in the case of upper primary-only schools. But for the increase in the number of schools in a few school categories, the actual number of the total number of schools declined under the Department of Education is about 93,015 schools. Similarly, the actual number of schools increased under the private unaided management is many more than 11,271 schools;  which is 22,570 schools. Scrutiny of the number of schools under private unaided management further reveals that the number of primary schools is declined by 8,506 (8.68 per cent) and on the other hand, elementary education has seen a steep increase which is to the tune of 12,052 schools (12.65 per cent). It may be recalled that the coverage of the number of private unaided schools under UDISE has increased significantly over a period which in the latest 2019-20 data is 337.5 thousand schools which otherwise means that for every 2.33 schools managed by the Department of Education, there is at least one private unaided school in India, the ratio in the previous year was 2.56. During the first year of the unification of SEMIS and DISE, a mere 256.3 thousand private unaided schools were covered in 2012-13. Is India moving towards the privatization of school education? the available data suggest that slowly but surely we are moving in that direction which is also reflected in the per cent share of enrolment in privately managed schools to total enrolment at school education in India.

Further, it has been observed that not only the primary and upper primary schools are declined but UDISE 2019-20 data also suggest that the same in case of schools having secondary and higher secondary grades have also shown a decline; however, the percentage of such schools in case of schools run by the Department of Education is a bit lower than the decline in case of other types of schools mentioned above. On the other hand, the coverage of private unaided schools during the same period has shown a mixed picture. On the one hand, primary (8.68 per cent), upper primary (3.38 per cent), secondary (15,73 per cent) and higher secondary (1.29 per cent) schools have shown a decline, on the other hand, the schools in the remaining categories, such as higher secondary (19.23 per cent), secondary (6.01 per cent) and senior secondary (7.94 per cent) have shown an impressive increase over the previous year.

The above analysis of the number of schools covered in UDISE 2019-20 indicates that of the total 42,292 schools declined the most of the schools have declined alone in the states of Madhya Pradesh (20,685 schools) and Uttar Pradesh (18,883 schools) which amount to 93.56 per cent of the total schools declined. Further, the analysis also indicates that the majority of schools that declined were confined to the Department of Education. On the other hand, schools managed by the private unaided managements have increased by more than 11 thousand during the same period. Given this, we have separately analyzed the decline/change in the number of schools in these two states under the Department of Education and Private Unaided managements details of which are presented in Tables 9 &10.

Uttar Pradesh

 Table 9 indicates that a total of 18,883 schools (15.65 per cent) in 2019-20 were fewer than in 2018-19 in Uttar Pradesh, the actual number of such schools is much higher than this as the number of schools under a few categories has increased which is to the tune of more than 30 thousand schools which otherwise reflect that the actual number of schools declined by 49,130 alone in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The distribution of schools in Uttar Pradesh under the Department of Education in 2019-20 reveals that barring schools having Grades I to VIII and VI to XII, all other categories have fewer schools than in the previous year i.e. 2018-19.  On the other hand, barring schools having Grades IX to X, IX to XII, and XI to XII, all other categories have shown an increase over the previous year in case of private unaided management and the number of increase in case of a few school categories is quite impressive. Of the total 6,317 private unaided schools added in 2019-20, 3,635 (28.43 per cent) alone were the elementary schools compared to which 1,058 primary schools (2.72 per cent) were added during the same period.

 Table 9: Schools by Department of Education & Private Unaided Management: Uttar Pradesh

 

School

Management

Number of Schools Covered
Change over 2018-19 %age Change
Department

of Education

Private

Unaided

All Schools Department

of Education

Private

Unaided

All Schools
PS (I-V) -25297 1058 -24394 -22.34 2.72 -15.01
UPS (I-VIII) 23634 3635 27389 23872.73 28.43 168.07
HSS (I-XII) 0 948 1074 0.00 41.34 30.26
UPS (VI-VIII) -23707 44 -23767 -51.15 0.30 -37.17
HSS (VI-XII) 89 811 1064 18.20 17.77 12.37
SS (I-X) -3 280 443 -33.33 20.97 15.92
SS (VI-X) -25 336 277 -51.02 9.59 6.83
SS (IX-X) -16 -536 -599 -1.11 -13.48 -10.81
HSS (IX-XII) -13 -251 -358 -8.55 -4.64 -6.01
HSS (XI-XII) -1 -8 -12 -50.00 -26.67 -32.43
Total -25339 6317 -18883 -15.65 7.22 -6.91

Source: UDISE+ different years.

Uttar Pradesh data further reveals a decline of 25,297 primary schools and 23,707 middle/upper primary schools in 2019-20 compared to which an increase to the tune of 23,634 elementary schools has been observed which maybe because of the merging of primary and upper primary schools into it but the UDISE+ 2019-20 report is silent on it. Nor from the state sources, the real reason behind the steep decline in the number of schools covered under UDISE+ 2019-20 can be known. If the decline is due to the merging of schools, equally important is to know criteria based on which schools have been merged or a few of them are even closed down.

Madhya Pradesh

Quite a similar picture like Uttar Pradesh emerges when we analyze coverage of schools under UDISE+ in 2019-20 in the state of Madhya Pradesh under the Department of Education which has also witnessed a huge decline in the number of schools which is to the tune of 22,334 schools (-25 per cent) against which the number of private unaided schools has increased by 6.92 per cent (2,019 schools). The bifurcation of schools under the Department of Education in Madhya Pradesh further shows that the majority of schools that are declined are the primary only schools 18,553 schools, -31.28 per cent) which is followed by upper primary schools   (17,072 schools, -29.27 per cent). Maybe because of primary and upper primary schools, the elementary schools increased by more than 13 thousand during the same period.  Not only did the primary and upper primary schools are declined but a few schools under secondary (Grades IX & X, 1,871 schools) and higher secondary (Grades IX to XII, 1,688 schools) categories under the Department of Education have also shown a decline during the same period.

Table 10: Schools by Department of Education & Private Unaided Management: Madhya Pradesh

 

School

Management

Change over 2018-19 %age Change
Department

of Education

Private

Unaided

All Schools Department

of Education

Private

Unaided

All Schools
PS (I-V) -18553 -1263 -20284 -31.28 -28.31 -22.92
UPS (I-VIII) 13300 3101 16556 18.25 90.97
HSS (I-XII) 1065 153 1217 3.86 29.51
UPS (VI-VIII) -17072 -24 -17170 -74.38 -29.27 -57.16
HSS (VI-XII) 680 -1 709 -0.96 308.26
SS (I-X) 1522 154 1677 5.16 55.68
SS (VI-X) 283 -13 301 69.19 -28.26 57.44
SS (IX-X) -1871 -50 -1981 -54.71 -27.62 -41.59
HSS (IX-XII) -1688 -35 -1705 -51.91 -9.83 -36.54
HSS (XI-XII) 0 -3 -5 0.00 -23.08 -31.25
Total -22334 2019 -20685 -25.00 6.92 -13.43

Concluding Observations

The above analysis reveals that there is a decline in the number of schools covered under UDISE in the recent past and most of the schools declined under the government management in general and the Department of Education in particular. On the other hand, the coverage of private unaided schools is on the rise the percentage share of which is increased from a mere 22 per cent in 2015-16 to 35 per cent in 2019-20 which is also reflected in the corresponding enrolment at the all levels of schools education in India all which reflect that slowly but surely India is moving towards privatisation of school education? Is this a cause of concern or a policy shift from the government to privatisation of school education? Or our parents have become conscious and are convinced that their wards can get quality education only in the private schools? These are the moot questions answers of which must come from the government. The percentage of government schools have come down from 76.4 per cent in 2011-12 to 67 per cent in 2018-19 and further to 65.1 per cent in 2019-20. Is the decline due to low coverage of government schools under UDISE+ or because of merging and de-merging of government schools. Coverage of unaided private schools under UDISE+, as reported above have increased by more than 11 thousand schools as compared to a decline by more than 42 thousand schools in the case of government schools in 2019-20. Certainly UDISE+ managers i.e. the Department of School Education & Literacy must come out with the details of the drastic decline in the number of schools covered under government management in the recent years or most specifically the year i.e. 2018-19 from which it has taken the charge of the UDISE+.

Elementary education in India is a constitutional commitment and a fundamental right of every child of age between 6 to 14 years, are we still working in that direction? It may be recalled that several centrally sponsored schemes were launched over time to achieve the goal of universal school education in India. Over a while, the focus of these programmes was shifted from strengthening infrastructure to improving retention and further to the quality of education. Both under the District Primary Education Programme and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme, a large number of government schools were opened based on the criteria that each of the habitations of the country must be made available a primary school within a distance of 1 km and an upper primary school within a distance of 3 km from the habitation; are these norms still relevant after SATH-E? Are these being followed anymore or have become irrelevant? Even within the newly opened schools a student-teacher ratio of 25: 1 was being maintained in case of primary and 35:1 in case of upper primary level. Hundreds of thousands of schools with even less than 25 students, were provided teacher(s) as per the criteria laid down. Still, at one point in time, there was a shortage of over a million teachers which were never met fully to meet the challenges of the unfinished task of universal schools education in India. Maybe because of these reasons the process of merging and de-merging in the name of Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital-Education (SATH-E) was initiated in January 2018 by the NITI Aayog and is termed as rationalisation and consolidation of elementary and secondary schools. Initially, Odisha,  Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh were the three states selected by NITI Aayog under SATH-E which has come to end in March 2020.  These states were selected aiming to become the role model states in school education. The aim was to merge small schools having enrolment up to 20 with the nearby (not necessarily within a distance of 1/3 km) located school equipped with the better number of teachers, infrastructure, TLM, libraries and other facilities which are essential for smooth functioning of a school. These small schools were termed as surplus schools with more than one school in the neighbourhood by the Ministry in 2017 and it was ensured that citizen voices will be respected and merging will not force children to drop out but the new school may not necessarily be located in the neighbourhood as specified under the RTE 2009 Act. At the school level, it was envisaged that MIS will help School Manager, in fact, the Head Master/Principal of the school in determining the aims of the school, formulating strategic plans, distributing resources, and evaluating staff performance as well as organizational success partially which is currently being looked after under the ongoing Shaala Siddhi programme that too funded by the Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Education and continuing even after SATH-E was launched in 2018. Needless to mention that the data collected through the seven domains of  Shaala Siddhi is supposed to take care of most of these aspects? Strategic plans under SATH-E is termed School Improvement Plans under the Shaala Siddhi programme presently being managed by NIEPA. Data up to 2020-21 indicates that in as many as 3,43,028 schools either the self-evaluation under Shaala Siddhi is completed or in progress. Are the other areas mentioned in SATH-E not supposed to be taken care of by the ongoing Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan? Are these should not be covered under the annual work plan formulation under Samagra Shiksha?  And why the merging and closing of schools are being guided and monitored from the top? Are a few questions answers of which is not available in the public domain.

Even years before the SATH-E, the process of merging was initiated and a good number of schools were merged in the states of Odisha, Rajasthan, etc. which was protested by the activists, teachers, and parents. The Report Card of  RTE: 2010 to 2020 by RTE Forum indicated that as many as 1,47,494 schools were either closed down or merged till 2017. Does it mean that schools under the DPEP and later SSA were opened in haste without using scientific techniques such as School Mapping advocated by the apex international institutions of education planning i.e. IIEP, Paris and NIEPA, New Delhi? Have we opened new schools where they were not required or viable or in the process had we had denied the right of many locations that deserved to have been provided with a new school or up-gradation of an existing school? Or the academic inputs about the location to open a new school were denied for non-academic reasons? We had shown hurry in the opening of schools in the past and now again we are in a hurry to merge or demerge or close down schools to ensure at least a good school in each location. At the time the Country was opening new schools the need for GIS Mapping was felt because of which School GIS covering all the states was developed. Is school GIS being used under SATH-E to close down or merge schools?

Table 11: Share of Government & Private Managements: Schools & Enrolment

2018-19 & 2019-20

 

 

Management

Schools Enrolment
2018-19 2019-20 2018-19 2019-20
%age %age Number %age %age Number
Government 67.0% 65.1 981146 49.0% 48.6% 121927212
Private Unaided 21.0% 22.4 337499 34.0% 35.4% 88913012
Government Aided 5.0% 5.6 84362 11.0% 10.8% 27014238
Other Government

Managements

3.0% 3.4 51424 2.5% 2.5% 6215384
Madrasa 2.0% 1.6 23677 1.0% 1.3% 3183258
Unrecognized 2.0% 2.0 29600 2.0% 1.5% 3718579
Total 15,51,000 100.0 15,07,708 24,43,38,584 100.0% 25,09,71,683

Source: UDISE+ 2018-19 & 2019-20

The merger of schools has been advocated by the NITI Aayog to consolidate resources including teachers. The project was supposed to be monitored by both the state, as well as a central level for which Central Project Monitoring Unit and National Steering Group were created at the national level. At the state level, State Project Monitoring Unit was supposed to have been created. The national-level monitoring teams are being assisted by international agencies, such as The Boston Consultancy Group (BSG). Ironically another international agency, The World Bank played a pivotal role in formulating policy to open new schools under DPEP and now another international agency is helping India through NITI Aayog to merge, de-merge or even close down schools. Primal Foundation for Education Leadership was another private agency engaged in developing the roadmap for SATH-E along with BCG to kick start the data-driven analysis to promote academic monitoring of school education across the country. As it looks from the available resources that the process of merging and close down of schools initiated through three states will spread to the remaining states of the country. Do not know whether the national level institutions, like NIEPA was ever consulted or a part of formulating conceptual note of SATH-E? NIEPA used to be a great advocate of the use of the school mapping technique to decide to open a new school or up-gradation of an existing school. Both under the DPEP and SSA, states claim to have applied school mapping in deciding the location of a new school? It would be of interest to know whether school mapping is being carried out under SATH-E in deciding which school is to be merged/closed down and to merge to which school. In response to the request of the state, SATH-E 2.0, was commenced by NITI Aayog for another two years, from October 2020 in the initial three states. However, as it seems from the media coverage that all are not happy with the merging and demerging of schools as there are allegations that the process has adversely been affected by the efforts being made under RTE 2009? Hopefully, The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights is closely monitoring the process of merging and closing down of schools and will ensure that it will not violate the Constitutional provisions and concept of the neighbourhood as specified in The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE 2009), and will not affect children adversely and citizens right in the affairs of education at the local level shall be protected.

Is-India-moving-towards-privatisation-of-school-education

Tables: Is India moving towards privatisation of School Education?

Media Coverage of comments of Prof. Arun C Mehta on UDISE-plus 2019-20 Data