By Arun C. Mehta
- Universal Access
- Schooling Facilities, Pupil-Teacher Ratio and Transition Rates
- Universal Enrolment
- Universal Retention
- Concluding Remarks
One of the important goals of universal elementary education is universal access to schooling facilities to all children of the age group 6-14 years. At the time of adoption of the constitution in 1950, the aim was to achieve the goal within the next ten years i.e. year 1960. Keeping in view the educational facilities available in the country at that time, the goal was far too ambitious to achieve within a short span of ten years. Hence, the target date was shifted a number of times. Till 1960, all efforts were focused on to provision of schooling facilities. It was only after near realisation of the goal of access that other components of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE), such as, enrolment and retention started receiving attention of planners and policy makers. It is the quality of education, which is at present in focus in all the programmes relating to elementary education in general and primary education in particular.
Since 1950 impressive progress has been made in every sphere of elementary education. In 1950-51, there were about 210 thousand primary and 14 thousand upper primary schools which has now been increased to 573 and 156 thousand respectively in the year 1993-94; thus showing an average annual rate of growth of 2.36 and 5.77 per cent. Over a period of time, the percentage of habitations having access to primary schools/sections within a distance of one kilometer and upper primary schools/sections within a distance of three kilometers has also improved significantly. Similarly, the percentage of rural population having access to schooling facilities has improved tremendously. At present about 83.36 and 76.15 per cent of the total habitations in the country are served by the primary and upper primary schooling facilities which cater the need of 93.76 and 85.01 per cent population
The improvement in schooling facilities is quite visible in enrolment at the primary and upper primary levels of education which has increased from 19.15 and 3.12 million in 1950-51 to 97.4 and 34.0 million in 1990-91 and has further increased to 110.4 and 41.0 million in the year 1996-97. The increase in enrolment is also reflected in the corresponding enrolment ratio which is at present 90.6 and 62.4 per cent respectively at the primary and upper primary levels of education (MHRD, 1997). The share of girls enrolment to total enrolment both at the primary (43.44 per cent) and upper primary (39.80 per cent) levels of education has also increased many fold and is higher than the corresponding increase in boys enrolment.
The retention rate at the elementary level over a period of time has improved significantly which is at present about 47.3 per cent. The number of teachers over time has increased many fold but the percentage of female teachers to total teachers both at the primary and upper primary levels of education is still low at 32.68 and 35.79 per cent. The pupil-teacher ratio at primary and upper primary level is 45:1 and 38:1. Despite all these impressive achievements, the goal of Universal Elementary Education remains elusive and the learners achievement very poor.
2. The Present Article
Though, the Department of Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development is the main agency responsible for collection of information on education, the data coverage relating to access is limited to the extant that only number of educational institutions is collected and disseminated. The other indicators of access, such as, number of habitations having access to schools/sections and rural population accessed to educational facilities is not available on regular basis but on quinquennial basis. The agency responsible for collection of information on these variables is the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) which collects information through its all-India educational surveys, Sixth survey with September 30, 1993, as its date of reference being the latest one. Apart from variables relating to access, it also collects information on a number of other variables, which are of the vital importance and presently not being collected by the other agencies. However, the full set of the NCERT data is still awaited but it has recently disseminated some statistics on access, institutions and enrolment. The detailed data on educational facilities, such as, availability of school buildings, blackboards, playgrounds, drinking water and electricity facilities, attrition rate, medium of instructions and age-grade matrix is yet to be published. Needless to mention that since the NCERT data is latest available for the year 1993-94, the analysis presented is generally confined to that year only. However, invariably previous survey data conducted in 1986-87 is also referred and used in the analysis. Some data from the MHRD is also used and analysed. The analysis is presented both at the all-India and State/Union Territory level.
The basic indicators of access have been extensively utilised in the present article. Indicators relating to both habitations and rural population are used. A composite indicator of schooling facilities has also been developed and states are grouped under educationally advanced and backward states. In addition, availability of a non-formal education centre in an unserved habitation has also been critically analysed. The enrolment in NFE centres is compared with the enrolment at the primary and upper primary levels of education, so as its contribution to the corresponding age-specific population. In between, the ratio of primary to upper primary schools has also been critically analysed. Availability of a NFE centre in an unserved habitation is also looked into so as the instructors and average enrolment. So far as the indicators relating to coverage is concerned, Gross Enrolment Ratio at the primary and upper primary levels of education is analysed. In addition, growth of enrolment between the period 1986-87 to 1993-94 has also been measured.
The out-of-school children have been computed for which enrolment at the flat rate of 15 per cent grossness (over-age and under-age children) is refined. Since the other available estimates of grossness are outdated, the one used recently in the Eighth Plan (15 per cent) to estimate additional enrolment is also used in the present article.
Additional enrolment that would be required to achieve goal of universal enrolment by the year 2001 has been worked out. One of the basic indicators of efficiency, namely, retention rate has also been computed and analysed at the elementary level of education. Similarly, transition from primary to upper primary level is also analysed.
More specifically, the main objectives of the present article are to analyse the Sixth All India Educational Survey data of the NCERT with reference to the following areas:
- to analyse the growth of educational facilities between the years 1986-87 and 1993-94;
- to analyse the status of non-formal education and to take a view of its contribution to the relevant age-group population; and
- to analyse the growth of enrolment during the period 1986-87 to 1993-94 and to take stock of the present position in terms of out-of-school children and retention rate.
Only three components, namely, universal access, enrolment and retention have been covered in the present article. Since the present article is primarily based upon the NCERT data, it is not possible to cover the fourth component of UEE, namely, quality of education because of non-availability of data on this aspect from the survey sources.
The component-wise analysis is presented below.
3. Universal Access
Considerable progress has been made so far as the goal of universal access is concerned which is reflected in the number of habitations having primary schooling facilities. But despite significant improvement in transition rate the upper primary education facilities have not expanded at the same pace as the primary education is expanded. It may be noted that, the ratio of primary to upper primary schools over a period of time has improved considerably (Varghese and Mehta, 1998). There are a large number of eligible habitations in the country, which still do not have primary schooling facilities within a distance of one kilometer. Alternatively, the unserved habitations should have facilities of non-formal education but the number of centres and their enrolment do not suggest that they have had a significant contribution to enrolment either at the primary or upper primary level of education. Even, if a school is in existence that need not guarantee that it has adequate teachers and teaching learning material and facilities.
First, a brief analysis of growth in number of habitations is presented.
3.1 Number of Habitations
The number of habitations and population during the period 1986-87 and 1993-94 presented in Table 1 reveals that the number of habitations increased to 1,061 thousand in 1993-94 from 982 thousand in the year 1986-87. This shows an increase of 79 thousand habitations (8.00 per cent) in a short period of about eight years. During the same period, the corresponding population (estimated) increased from 524 million to 875 million showing an increase of 7.60 per cent per annum.
The state-wise analysis reveals that Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are among the few major states which has shown a decline in number of habitations. However, despite a decline in the number of habitations, the corresponding population in these states increased significantly. The increase in case of West Bengal is worth noticeable, which shows that the total number of habitations in the state has increased from 60 thousand in 1986-87 to 97 thousand in the year 1993-94.
The number of habitations in rural areas having population of 300 and more (Table 1a) also indicate that the same is increased by 9.56 per cent, which is 51 thousand in the absolute terms. The corresponding increase in number of habitations having population of 500 and more is 40 thousand (11.06 per cent). The states, which have shown a decline in total number of habitations during 1986-87 to 1993-94, indicate that barring Tamil Nadu (population 300 and more), the number of habitations having population 300/500 and more during the same period has increased. This means the need of providing more educational facilities to these new habitations, as well. During 1986-87 to 1993-94, it has been observed that the percentage of habitations served and population access to schooling facilities remained almost stagnant but in real terms this indicate a significant improvement in educational facilities, which is achieved despite the increase in number of habitations and population.
3.2 Rural Habitations having Access to Schooling Facilities
The number of habitations in rural areas distributed according to population slabs and served by primary schools/sections at the all-India level is presented in Table 2.
Of the total 1,061 thousand rural habitations in the country, 528 thousand had a primary school/section within the habitation itself which otherwise means that a little less than fifty per cent of the total habitations in 1993-94 had schooling facilities within the habitation.
As per norms, a habitation is entitled to have a primary school, if it has a total population of 300 and more and has no school within a distance of one kilometer. However, the norm is often relaxed in case of hilly areas, difficult terrain’s and border districts. A distance of one kilometer is treated as the maximum walking distance to which a child is expected to travel from his residence to school.
On the other hand, about 83.4 per cent habitations had a primary school/section within a distance of one kilometer which otherwise indicates that as against the norms, about 177 thousand habitations in 1993-94 did not have schooling facilities. The state-wise number of habitations do not having access to a school/section is presented in the Table 3.
The highest number of unserved habitations in 1993-94 was in Uttar Pradesh (43 thousand) followed by Madhya Pradesh (19 thousand), Rajasthan (16 thousand), Himachal Pradesh (14 thousand), Bihar (14 thousand) etc. Among the major states, Tamil Nadu had only 623 (1.38 per cent) unserved habitations of the total 45 thousand habitations in the state. It may also be noted that most of the educationally backward states still have a large number of unserved habitations.
The percentage of unserved habitations to the total number of habitations in a state indicate that it is as high as 52.95 per cent in Aurnachal Pradesh followed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands (44.93 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (40.56 per cent) and Sikkim (25.52 per cent) which may be due to difficult terrain and hilly areas in these states. Kerala has more than 1.55 thousand unserved habitations, which is 17.77 per cent of the total habitations in the state. Except Sikkim, Tripura and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, all other States and UTs have more than 90 per cent habitations accessed to a primary school/section within a distance of one kilometer. Kerala too has a lower percentage (83.54 per cent) than the all-India average of 93.03 per cent. Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep were the only two Union Territories in the country that has provided a primary school/section to all habitations within a distance of one kilometer. Among the educationally backward states, Andhra Pradesh provided access to 97.51 per cent habitations compared to 94.32 per cent in Bihar, 94.75 per cent in Madhya Pradesh, 96.13 per cent in Orissa, 93.05 per cent in Rajasthan, 85.64 per cent in Uttar Pradesh and 91.94 per cent in West Bengal. All this shows that the goal of universal access in these states is almost achieved which is also reflected in the percentage of rural population served by the primary schooling facilities.
Many of the unserved habitations are not entitled to have a school/section because of the population norms. There are about 581 thousand habitations having population 300 and more that is 54.74 per cent of the total habitations in the country. In a good number of these habitations schooling facilitates are not available within a distance of one kilometer. In percentage terms, it is as low as 7.0 per cent but in absolute terms more than 40 thousand habitations in 1993-94 did not have access to schooling facilities. The number of unserved habitations in 1986-87 (population 300 and more) was 142 thousand (26.76 per cent).
Mere coverage of habitation does not indicate exactly whether education facilities are available to all population. Therefore, a better and more reliable indicator of access is percentage of rural population served by schooling facilities which is presented in Table 4.
3.3 Rural Population having Access to Educational Facilities
In 1986-87, more than 95 per cent population residing in rural areas had a primary school/section within a distance of one kilometer compared to 94 per cent in 1993-94. Though the percentage during 1986-87 to 1993-94 remained almost stagnant but termed spectacular because of the massive increase in total number of habitations during the same period (Table 1). However, about 41 million people in 1993-94 did not have access to schooling facilities. The facilities distributed according to different population slabs (Table 2) reveal that both the percentages of habitations and rural population accessed to schools/sections facilities decline with decline in the population size. Of the total 7,119 habitations having population 5,000 and more in 1993-84, 7,062 had schooling facilities within a distance of one kilometer. This shows that more than 99 per cent habitations and rural population had access to schooling facilities. But, in the population slab 300-499, only 88 per cent habitations and population had access to schooling facilities.
On the other hand, it has been observed that a large number of habitations that are otherwise not entitled to have a school/section because of the population norms had the same even within the habitation. Thus, about 103 thousand habitations having population below 300 representing 28 per cent population had access to schooling facilities within the habitation itself.
The aggregate data at the all-India level is useful to a limited extant. Unless the same is analysed at the disaggregated levels, the states/districts/blocks that do not have access to schooling facilities cannot be identified. But, the same cannot be analysed below the State/UT level because data at that level is simply not available. It may also possible that an unserved habitation may have a non-formal education centre or even an unrecognised private school detail of which is presented in Table 8.
3.4 Upper Primary Education Facilities
Similar to primary schools, a detailed analysis is also carried out in relation to availability of upper primary schools/sections in habitations distributed according to population slabs (Table 5).
Of the total 1,061 thousand habitations in the country in 1993-94, about 147 thousand (13.87 per cent) had upper primary schools/sections within the habitation itself. This shows that compared to primary schools (49.80 per cent), the upper primary schooling facilities were available to only 13.87 per cent of the total habitations giving access to about 37.02 per cent population. A marked increase in number of habitations is noticed when upper primary schools/sections within a distance of three kilometers is analysed. Thus, as many as 808 thousand habitations (76.15 per cent) providing access to about 85 per cent population had schooling facilities within a distance of three kilometers in 1993-94. However, when schooling facilities in terms of number of habitations having population 500 and more is analysed one noticed that only 474 thousand (71.60 per cent) habitations had facilities within a distance of three kilometers. This shows that about 65 thousand habitations did not have access to an upper primary school/section but were otherwise entitled to have the same as per the policy norms.
The aggregate data further indicates that the number of habitations having access to upper primary schools/sections declines with decline in population size of habitation, which is quite similar to situation at the primary level. Of 7,119 habitations having population 5000 and above in 1993-94, about 98.10 per cent (6,984 habitations) had schooling facilities within a distance of three kilometers but declined to 79.43 per cent in the population slab 500-999 (Table 5). It may also be noted that more than 85 per cent of these habitations (5,000 and more) had schooling facilities within the habitation compared to 96.3 per cent at the primary level. On the other hand, a good number of habitations (474 thousand) who had population below 500 in 1993-94 had schooling facilities within a distance of three kilometers of which about 26 thousand had the facilities even within the habitation but the percentage population to which they serve is only 5.40 per cent of the total population in that slab.
Recently, NIEPA undertook a study on upper primary education, which covered a district each in Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (Varghese and Mehta, 1998b). Irrespective of states, it is found that a primary school is located within a distance of one kilometer from the upper primary school. In majority of cases, an upper primary school is also located within a distance of three kilometers, all which retriate availability of both primary and upper primary schools.
The state-wise number of rural habitations having population 500 and more and served by upper primary schools/sections is presented in Table 6. Across the states, in a large number of habitations, upper primary schools/sections were available within the habitation but their percentage to total habitations in a state vary from state to state. Among major states, Andhra Pradesh (29.09 per cent), Bihar (20.73 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (27.33 per cent), Tamil Nadu (25.79 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (17.01 per cent) had lower percentage of habitations in 1993-94 than at the all-India level (30.33 per cent). But, the situation improved to a significant effect when habitations’ having accessed to schooling facilities within a distance of three kilometers is analysed. As mentioned, more than 87 per cent of the total habitations having population 500 and more in 1993-94 had access to upper primary schools/sections within a distance of three kilometers.
Like primary education, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep also had all the habitations accessed to upper primary schools/sections within a distance of three kilometers. Except Orissa, educationally backward states had a lower percentage of habitations having accessed to a upper primary school/section within a distance of three kilometers among which Madhya Pradesh (72.04 per cent) had the lowest percentage. In general, it has been observed that the states that had a lower percentage of habitations served by a primary school/section; also had a lower percentage of upper primary schools/sections.
Further, it is noticed that a little more than 37 per cent of the total rural population had upper primary schools/sections within the habitation compared to 85 per cent within a distance of three kilometers. It is only in Daman and Diu that the entire rural population is accessed to an upper primary school/section within a distance of three kilometers. Among major states, Andhra Pradesh (79.43 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (72.60 per cent), Rajasthan (79.00 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (82.09 per cent) all had a lower percentage of population served by upper primary school than at the all-India level. Most of these states too had a lower percentage in terms of number of habitations served by upper primary schools.
3.6 Villages having Access to Educational Facilities
Apart from the number of habitations and rural population served by the schooling facilities, a third indicator which also gives information on access is the number of villages having schooling facilities. This indicator may be treated as an alternative to the first two indicators presented above. In view of the policy guidelines, indicators relating to habitations are more appropriate to assess availability of educational facilities.
Of the total 586 thousand villages, about 417 thousand villages in 1993-94 had primary schools which in percentage terms is 71.18 per cent (Table 7). This otherwise indicate that about 29 per cent villages did not have a primary school/section compared to 77 per cent not having an upper primary school/section in the village. In absolute terms, 169 and 450 thousand villages in 1993-94 did not have a primary and upper primary school/section respectively in the village.
The Table 7 further reveals that the majority of villages did not have even a non-formal education centre. Compared to 169 thousand unserved villages (13.02 per cent), only 22 thousand villages had a primary non-formal education centre. Similarly, only 4 thousand (1.00 per cent) villages had an upper primary centre compared to 450 thousand unserved villages.
Further, it has been observed that many a states did not have either a primary or upper primary NFE centre even in unserved habitations which may have a large number of out-of-school children. Such states are Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Nagaland, Punjab, Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry. In rest of the states, NFE centres were in existence but their percentage to total unserved villages is to a meager to have a significant impact on out-of-school children. For instance, Bihar had only 309 villages with a primary NFE centre compared to 24 thousand unserved villages. However, there may be a school within a distance of one kilometer but from the available data it is not possible to exactly know how many villages according to population norm are eligible for a school. In addition, unserved villages may also have unrecognized schools details of, which are presented in Table 8.
A little less than fifty per cent of the total villages in the country had both the unrecognized primary and upper primary schools in village itself. In absolute terms, as many as, 27 and 7 thousand villages had unrecognized primary and upper primary schools respectively in the year 1993-94. Further, it has been noticed that the number of unrecognized schools in a village increases with increase in population size of the village. The other significant point that has been noticed is that at the all-India level more unrecognised upper primary schools are in existence than the primary schools. This may be due to large number of unserved habitations, which do not have access to a recognised upper primary school. Even, in villages that had population below 300, both unrecognised primary and upper primary schools are noticed to be in existence.
3.7 Un-served Habitations and NFE Centres
In addition to number of unserved villages, state-wise percentage of habitations having NFE centres to the total number of unserved habitations has also been analysed and the same is presented above in the Table 3. The table reveals that at the all-India level there were only 5.93 per cent unserved habitations (within one kilometer) which had a non-formal education centre covering about 9.16 per cent of the total population. The state-wise data, however, shows lower percentages than at the all-India level. Barring a few states, such as, Assam (14.51 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (19.24 per cent), Manipur (18.71 per cent), Megahalaya (10.84 per cent), Orissa (20.41 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (14.83 per cent) and Delhi (19.67 per cent), all other states had the percentage lower than ten per cent. This suggests that the basic objectives of non-formal system have not been realised, as it is supposed to provide alternative facilities to areas where out-of-school children concentrate and schooling facilities are not available.
Of the total 121 thousand primary and upper primary centres in the country in 1993-94, rural areas constituted 94.52 per cent and the remaining 5.48 per cent centres were in the urban areas. It has also been observed that irrespective of rural and urban areas, a good number of NFE centres are being run by the Voluntary Agencies details of which is presented in the Table 9.
Of the total 112 thousand primary centres, about 6,373 centres are being run by the Voluntary Agencies and the remaining 106 thousand are the Government run centres. Further, it has been noticed that irrespective of the management, the majority of primary centres were in the rural areas and its percentage to total number of centres is as high as 94.77 and 97.61 per cent respectively for the Government and Voluntary Agency run centres. While anlaysing the number of primary centres distributed according to Government and Voluntary Agencies, one finds that the contribution of the Voluntary Agencies is limited to the extant of only 5.69 per cent (6,373 centres). Similar pattern is also noticed in case of the upper primary centres (in percentage terms); though its number compared to primary centres is very small. Thus, about 5,164 and 509 upper primary centres in 1993-94 are functioning respectively under the Government and Voluntary Agencies (Table 9). In addition, there were a few combined primary and upper primary centres but their number compared to other types is small and majority of them are the Government run centres.
Further, it has been observed that barring fourteen states all other states had only a few centres that are being run by the Voluntary Agencies but their number irrespective of the state is very small (Table 10). Some of these states are Karnataka, Nagaland, Punjab, Tripura and West Bengal. The highest number of centres run by the Voluntary Agencies are in Orissa (2,200) followed by Uttar Pradesh (1,250) and Andhra Pradesh (1,030). On the other hand, the state-wise number of upper primary centres presented in Table 10 reveals that compared to the primary level, only a few upper primary centres are in existence. About, 5,164 and 509 upper primary centres respectively run by the Government and Voluntary Agencies were in the existence in 1993-94 which is only 4.89 and 7.99 per cent of the total primary centres in the country. Only Andhra Pradesh (3,025), Madhya Pradesh (1,262), Orissa (447) and Uttar Pradesh (119) had a few upper primary Government centres where as the percentage of centres run by the Voluntary Agencies to the total upper primary centres was 8.97 per cent.
Research findings revealed that one of the reasons of low enrolment in rural areas is due to non availability of schools for girls and female teachers but the distribution of NFE centres indicate that only a few centres are made available to girls in both the rural and urban areas. So far as upper primary education is concerned, a recent study conducted in four major states reveals that separate school for girls is not a major issue. It is the distance of school from the house, which is a deciding, factor for parents whether to continue or discontinue education of their girl wards (Varghese and Mehta, 1998b). If the school is integrated one (primary to high/higher secondary), a chance of girl survival improves significantly than in independent schools.
The state-wise number of primary and upper primary centres distributed according to management and area is presented in the Tables 10 and 11. The table reveals that at the all-India level, of the total 106 thousand primary centres there are only 5 thousand centres that are specifically meant for girls. In rural areas, the percentage of girl centres to the total primary centres is only 4.73 per cent most of which are the Government owned centres. On the other hand, only 380 of the total 6,373 primary centres run by the Voluntary Agencies are specifically meant for the girls. The percentage of girl centres to total primary centres reveals that barring a few states, all other states have only a few girl centres that is also true in case of the upper primary centres. Such states are Andhra Pradesh (11.9 per cent), Assam (3.64 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (4.18 per cent), Orissa (5.63 per cent), Rajasthan (11.18 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (1.48 per cent).
Based on the above discussion one gets the impression that the non-formal education has not expanded well and reached to all potential areas and beneficiaries.
3.8 Instructors: Non-formal Education
The NFE centres distributed according to instructors and enrolment is presented in Table 12 which reveals that the average size of a non-formal education (primary) centre in 1993-94 was about 27 learners but the number of instructor in a centre vary from no instructor to two and more instructors. It has been observed that the maximum number of the centres – both primary and upper primary had only one instructor which in percentage terms comes out to be 92.62 and 78.35 per cent. In 1993-94, there were about 4,553 primary and 128 upper primary centres, which had an average enrolment of 26 and 36 learners but did not have an instructor. On the other hand, there were about 729 primary and 22 upper primary centres that had at least one instructor but did not have learner. In addition, there were a few upper primary centres (18) which had more than two instructors but did not have learner, thus indicating a lot of wastage and lack of seriousness of the programme. Further, about 1,289 primary and 73 upper primary centres with average enrolment of 58 and 78 had even more than two instructors.
The distribution of centres further reveals that the number of instructor(s) in a centre has nothing to do with the average number of learners it had. Even, 2,289 primary and 62 upper primary centres, which had an average enrolment of 50, had just one instructor. Similarly, about 160 primary and 128 upper primary centres that had more than 50 learners did not have even a single instructor. Further, it has been noticed that the average size of a centre was 21-30 learners, as the majority of the centres fall within this category but as many as 2,306 primary and 33 upper primary did not have an instructor. One gets the idea about the type of education that is being imparted in the NFE centres, which had learners but did not have an instructor. Even, if the centre has an instructor that need not guarantee that it functions regularly and whether equivalent education to the formal system is being imparted. It is also of the interest to know how many of the NFE learners over time transited to the formal system. With the limited set of data, it is not possible to gather any further information on this aspect.
3.9 Enrolment: Non-formal Education
When enrolment in formal system is compared with the corresponding enrolment in NFE centres, it has been observed that it is too meager to have any significant impact on enrolment both at the primary and upper primary levels of education. In order to see the contribution of NFE programmes to enrolment under the formal system, the percentage of enrolment in NFE centres (primary and upper primary centres) to total elementary enrolment (Grades I-VIII) has been worked out. While analysing enrolment data, it may be noted that enrolment in the NFE centres included only those children who were of the age-group 6-14 years. However, it is not known from the existing set of data whether children below age `6’ and above `14’ are also included in the NFE enrolment and if yes, what is its percentage to total enrolment. Since enrolment in the formal schools is inclusive of both over-age and under-age children, the percentage of enrolment in NFE centres to the total enrolment may not present the true picture of its contribution to the formal system. Therefore, as an alternative, percentage of enrolment in NFE centres to the corresponding age-specific population (6-14 years) has also been worked out and the same is presented in the Table 13.
The percentage of learners in the Government run centres (primary and upper primary) to the total elementary enrolment (Grades I-VIII) indicate that the percentage is as small as 2.54 and 2.33 per cent respectively in the case of girls and total enrolment. The enrolment in centres run by the Voluntary Agencies, even if added to enrolment, will improve the percentage only to a marginal effect. Even, the corresponding percentage to age-specific population (6-14 years) do not show any significant improvement, as it is only 3.05 and 3.22 per cent respectively in the case of girls and total enrolment.
The state-wise results reveal that barring a few states, like, Andhra Pradesh (7.90 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (7.08 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (7.41 per cent), Manipur (10.51 per cent), Rajasthan (3.87 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (6.36 per cent) and Chandigarh (4.22 per cent), all other states have a lower percentage of NFE enrolment than the all-India average of 3.22 per cent. The percentage in case of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh is termed impressive and is attributed to large number of dropout and out-of-school children in these states. The achievement is also significant in view of only a few NFE centres and large number of unserved habitations and villages in these states. In as many as nine states, since the NFE centres are not in existence, the entire responsibility of imparting education rests with the formal system. Such states are Karnataka, Nagaland, Punjab, Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal, Dadra and Nagara Haveli, Daman and Diu and Pondicherry. Kerala too had only a few NFE centres and its contribution to total elementary enrolment is negligible (0.07 per cent); this may be due to the fact that the state has almost achieved the goal of universal enrolment through the formal system of education.
4.0 Ratio of Primary to Upper Primary Schools
The ratio of primary to upper primary schools during the period 1950-51 to 1996-97 at the all-India level is presented in Table 14. The table reveals that the ratio has considerably improved from 15.4 in 1950-51 to 3.9 in 1985-86; thereafter it has established at about 3.5 which is still above the policy a directive of 1:2. Keeping in view the impressive growth in number of primary schools during the period 1950-51 to 1996-97, the ratio at 3.5 indicates that during the last few years both primary and upper primary schools have increased almost at the same pace (Varghese and Mehta, 1988). However, in a number of states, the ratio is higher than at the all-India level. The state-wise ratio is presented in Table 15.
Across the states, it has been observed that the ratio during the period 1986-87 to 1993-94 has declined but in most of the states it is still above 1:2. Compared to primary schools, West Bengal has the least number of upper primary schools and the ratio is as high as 16.4; this indicates that on an average there is only one upper primary school for every 16 primary schools. Andhra Pradesh (7.7), Bihar (3.8), Himachal Pradesh (7.0), Madhya Pradesh (4.5), Tamil Nadu (5.4) and Uttar Pradesh (4.5) are among the other few states, which also has the ratio higher than the national average. On the other hand, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Chandigarh and Pondicherry had a upper primary school for every two primary schools it had in 1993-94.
The results indicate that despite significant improvement in both the percentage habitations and rural population served by the schooling facilities, the ratio of primary to upper primary schools both at the all-India and state level is still quite high. This indicates that more upper primary schools need to be provided, so that the ratio is settled near to some what 1:2. The number of unserved habitations presented above also supports this.
4.3 Female Teachers and Pupil-Teacher Ratio
The Percentage of female teachers and pupil-teacher ratio both at the primary and upper primary levels of education is presented in the Table 16. Over a period of time, the number of female teachers at the primary level has improved significantly but the same is not true in case of teachers at the upper primary level. The percentage of female teachers at the upper primary level has in fact declined to 32.8 per cent in 1993-94 from 35.1 per cent in 1986-97. However in many states, the percentage is improved significantly but still male teachers out numbered their female counterparts; difference between the two is wide and significant.
The state-wise percentage of female teachers at the primary level reveals that in a few states, such as, Goa (63.81 per cent), Kerala (67.27 per cent) and Chandigarh (93.35 per cent), more female teachers are in existence than male teachers but the same (except Chandigarh) in case of upper primary level is not true. On the other hand in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh (except primary level) and West Bengal, the percentage of female teachers both at the primary and upper primary levels of education is lower than 25 per cent which indicate need of providing more female teachers in these states.
The trend in pupil-teacher ratio indicates that both at the primary and upper primary levels of education, the ratio has increased significantly from 44 and 29 in 1986-87 to 50 and 38 in the year 1993-94. It may however be noted that since the full set of the NCERT data on teachers is not available, the corresponding ratio for the year 1993-94 has been obtained from the publications of the MHRD.
The state-wise pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level reveals that they have different patterns and the ratio vary between 18 in Manipur to 53 in Bihar. A large number of states had a lower ratio than at the all-India level; such states are, Assam, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal were among few states that had a higher pupil-teacher ratio at the upper primary level than at the all-India level. It has also been noticed that in a few states, such as, Assam, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab and Rajasthan, the pupil-teacher ratio both at the primary and upper primary levels of education is lower than at the all-India level. The increased ratio during 1986-87 to 1993-94 indicates that enrolment at the upper primary level has started increasing but since the corresponding number of teachers has not increased at the same pace, the ratio is also showing an increasing trend.
The average number of teachers in 1993-94 reveals that on an average a primary school had 2.9 teachers compared to 6.9 teachers in a upper primary school (Table 15). The state-wise average number of teachers shows that the majority of states have more than two teachers but still there are states, like Jammu and Kashmir and Dadra and Nagara Haveli; which has less than two teachers in a primary school. In fact, there may be a large number of single teacher primary schools but is not reflected in the aggregated data presented above. The data on single teacher schools is not yet available. The number of teachers in primary schools suggest that teachers are involved in multi-grade teaching but the same is not true in case of upper primary teachers. This is also supported by the study conducted by Varghese and Mehta (1998a & b).
4.2 Transition Rate
The transition rate at the all-India level during the period 1970-71 to 1990-91 and state level for the year 1990-91 is presented in Tables 17 & 18. So far as the computation of transition rate is concerned, the procedure followed is, first the repeaters are taken out from enrolment in the first grade of upper primary cycle which is then divided by the terminal grade of previous cycle; that is primary level. However, from the existing set of data, it is not possible to know exactly how many children successfully completed Grade V and then taken admission in Grade VI next year. Thus, the existing sets of transition rates do not present the true picture of transition from one stage to another. It may be recalled that states have different patterns so far as the composition of primary and upper primary cycles are concerned (Table 18). Except Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Karanataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Dadra and Nagara Haveli and Lakshadweep, all other states have grades I-V and VI-VII respectively at the primary and upper primary level. These states have grades I-IV and V-VII.
While analysing transition rate from primary to upper primary level, it has been observed that in a number of states, the transition rate is noticed to be higher than hundred. This is by logic is not possible, as enrolment in Grade VI cannot be more than the enrolment in Grade V the previous year. This could be possible only if some new students from outside the state have joined upper primary stream but keeping in view the size of deviation, the same may not be the only reason of this discrepancy. In West Bengal, enrolment in Grade VI in 1991-92 was 274 thousand (73.60 per cent) more than the enrolment in Grade V previous year. Further, it has been observed that the states that have high transition rate (more than 100) for boys too have a higher transition rate for girls. Such states are Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, West Bengal, Chandigarh, Delhi and Pondicherry. Except West Bengal most of these states are smaller in size; hence a marginal over reporting of enrolment may resulted into the transition rate higher than hundred.
The transition rate at the all-India level reveals that over a period of it has improved to a significant effect (Varghese & Mehta, 1998). The is also reflected in boys/girls differential which has been considerably declined during the same period. The transition rate from primary to upper primary level which was 82.56 per cent 1970-71 improved to 84.58 per cent in 1975-76 and further improved to 94.42 per cent in the year 1990-91 (Table 17). The results further reveal that a little less than 18 per cent children those who were in Grade V in 1970-71 dropped out from the system in transition which in absolute terms comes out to be 1,126 thousand; girls contribution was of the tune of 566 thousand (50 per cent). In the latest year 1990-91, the corresponding figures are 787 thousand (total) and 381 thousand (girls).
A perusal of state-wise rates reveal that transition from primary to upper primary level, irrespective of the states, is noticed to be higher than 75 per cent (except Sikkim). Between upper primary grades, the transition is also found to be very high in four districts that were surveyed recently by Varghese and Mehta (1998b). The educationally backward states had a mixed of high and very high transition rates in 1990-91. Andhra Pradesh (87.54 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (81.80 per cent), Orissa (88.42 per cent), Rajasthan (99.16 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (92.84 per cent) had comparatively a high transition rate than in Bihar (78.98 per cent). In Bihar, about 133 thousand boys and 89 thousand girls dropped-out from the system in transition. Kerala that had shown almost a consistent enrolment both in the ratio and absolute form for the last more than twenty-five years also had a very high transition rate for both boys and girls. The improving transition rates across states indicate more demand for upper primary education in years that follow. The demand is likely to be further increased with expansion of primary education. An inefficient primary education system will transit fewer primary graduates to upper primary stream as efficiency of primary system has a direct impact on upper primary system.
5.0 Universal Enrolment
Since, universal enrolment is the most important component of UEE, a detailed analysis of growth of enrolment is undertaken. Needless to mention that the analysis is carried out separately at the primary and upper primary levels of education and for girls and total enrolment. Since the previous NCERT survey was conducted in 1986-87 and the latest one in the year 1993-94, the growth of enrolment is measured between the period 1986-87 and 1993-94. In addition, out-of-school children and additional enrolment that would be required to achieve goal of universal enrolment is also computed. For this purpose, first enrolment at different levels of education in 1993-94 is refined at the flat rate of 15 per cent (Mehta, 1995,1). The refined enrolment is then deducted from the corresponding age-specific population to age-group is obtained simply by subtracting refined enrolment from the age-specific population in 2001. The additional enrolment out-side the prescribed age group is obtained by taking out 15 per cent of the enrolment required within the age group. This is then added to enrolment required within the age-group to achieve net additional enrolment (including over-age and under-age children) that would be required in 2001 to obtain the goal of universal enrolment (Mehta, 1997,1). The requisite percentages from the 1993-94 enrolment level have also been worked out.
5.1 Growth of Enrolment
The annual rate of growth calculated between the period 1986-87 and 1993-94 (Table 19) shows that at the all-India level; girls’ enrolment increased at much faster rate than boys’ enrolment. This is true for both primary and upper primary levels of education. The boys’ enrolment at the elementary level increased at the rate of 1.51 per cent per annum compared to 3.16 per cent girls’ enrolment. Similarly, percentage increase in girls enrolment at the elementary level in 1993-94 increased by more than 21 per cent compared to 11 per cent boys enrolment (Table 20). The high percentage increase and annual rates is resulted due to low enrolment of girls and comparatively high enrolment of boys in the base year 1986-87.
A perusal of state-wise rates reveal that irrespective of educational level, most of the states experienced a high rate of growth in enrolment. However, a growth in primary enrolment is noticed in the case of Goa, Kerala and Daman and Diu, which may be attributed to decline in the corresponding age-specific population. In absolute terms, decline in enrolment is 11.82 and 3.40 per cent respectively in Goa and Kerala.
At the elementary level, a number of states experienced a lower percentage increase in enrolment than at the all-India level. However, the increase in enrolment in case of Haryana (18.76 per cent), Karnataka (22.66 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (20.62 per cent), Manipur (51.17 per cent), Orissa (21.16 per cent), Rajasthan (19.55 per cent), Dadra and Nagara Haveli (33.89 per cent) and Delhi (40.90 per cent) is significant and higher than the all-India average of 16.11 per cent. Like all-India level, these states also experienced a higher increase in girls’ enrolment than the increase in boys’ enrolment and the difference between the two is significant. Further, it is also noticed that the rate of growth and percentage increase in enrolment is higher at upper primary level than the increase at the primary level that is in the line of transition rates presented above.
The annual rate of growth and percentage increase in enrolment analysed above is useful to know whether enrolment over time has an increasing or declining trend and at what rate or how many percentage points; it has increased or declined. It fails to provide idea about coverage of child population and out-of-school children. This can be obtained, if enrolment is linked to the corresponding age-specific population and basic indicators like, enrolment ratio is computed.
A perusal of Table 21 reveals that gross enrolment ratio between the period 1986-87 and 1993-94 improved significantly but the same is still not adequate to attain the status of universal enrolment, if over-age and under-age children are taken out from enrolment. However, it may be noted that as we approach UPE, the percentages of over-age and under-age children, as well as, the enrolment ratio (gross) will decline. The overall enrolment ratio increased from 91.69 per cent in 1986-87 to 95.90 per cent in the year 1993-94 compared to which girls ratio during the same period improved from 71.56 to 85.02 per cent. However, despite significant improvement in transition rates, the corresponding ratio at the upper primary level improved from 57.95 to only 59.07 per cent. It has also been noticed that boys/girls differential in enrolment ratio remained almost static (11.00 per cent. Unless all girls are brought under the umbrella of education, the goal of universal enrolment us not likely to be realised in the near future.
The analysis of enrolment ratio further reveals that across states, a significant progress has been made. Barring a few states, such as, Goa, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, the enrolment ratio in 1993-94 was very low. Tamil Nadu had a very high ratio both at the primary (143.50 per cent) and upper primary (103.38 per cent) levels of education; thus clearly indicating high incidence of over-age and under-age children.
It has also been observed that a large number of states are in a position to achieve the goal of UPE. However, figures at the all-India level indicate that the goal may continue to remain elusive till all the remaining children are brought under the education fold. In this regard, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal need immediate attention. A variety of activities have already been initiated in these states to promote primary education among which DPEP is the most prominent one. The existing coverage of the DPEP, however, do not suggest that it will improve the situation to a significant effect. The majority of districts in a DPEP state are yet to be covered under the programme. Unless new programmes are launched or remaining states are added to DPEP and programme is expanded to upper primary level, the goal of UEE may not be realised in the near future. It may be noted that enrolment at primary level is a function of 6-11 age group population but upper primary enrolment is not a function of 11-14 years population. Therefore, unless the goal of UPE is realised, UEE cannot be achieved, as upper primary education may be imparted to only those children who graduated primary cycle and continue to remain in the system. Till then, universalisation of primary graduates will be treated as achieving universal elementary enrolment (Varghese and Mehta, 1998).
5.2 Out-of-School Children
While adjusting enrolment, the percentage of over-age and under-age children (@15 per cent), as mentioned above, is taken out from enrolment and refined enrolment is obtained. The balance of age-specific population and refined enrolment is termed as out-of-school children. About 14.85 million boys and 21.87 million girls of age-group 6-11 years were out-of-school compared 14.33 million boys and 17.02 million girls of the age-group 11-14 years (Table 22). Combined together, more than 68 million children of age-group 6-14 years were out-of-school of which girls constituted more than 57 per cent or 38.89 million in absolute terms. In other words, out-of-school children indicate a net enrolment ratio of 69.35, 47.99 and 62.20 per cent respectively at the primary, middle and elementary levels of education which otherwise brought to hundred, the dream of universal enrolment would not be realised. The net enrolment ratio can be brought to hundred, if all children of the age group 6-14 years are enrolled and retained in the system. The actual number of out-of-school children may be little lower than the one computed in the present article, if the same is based upon the official MHRD data. The deviation between the MHRD and NCERT enrolment data at the elementary level is found to be about 16.7 million (Mehta, 1996). Thus, based on the MHRD data, about 27.83, 26.38 and 54.21 million children of age group 6-11, 11-14 and 6-14 years were out-of-school in 1993-94, indicating a lot more efforts that would be required to bring all unenrolled children under the canopy of education system.
5.3 Additional Enrolment
The additional enrolment required to enrol by the year 2001 is presented in Table 23. The enrolment required is useful to know how many school places that would be required in 2001 and planning of incentive schemes, like, mid-day meal may also be linked to future enrolment. The results reveal that enrolment should be increased by at least 27.19 per cent in case of boys and 60.12 per cent in case of girls from the 1993-94 level, if the goal of universal primary education is to be achieved by 2001. The corresponding estimate for age-group 6-14 years is 51.47 per cent for boys and 96.43 per cent for girls. In other words, about 40.45 and 52.34 million additional children respectively of the age-group 6-11 and 11-14 years will be required to enrol by the year 2001 from the 1993-94 enrolment level. It may also be noted that the percentage additional children that would be required at the upper primary level is more than 100 (boys) and 200 (girls) per cent from their 1993-94 which means need to further strengthening of the upper primary schooling facilities as the system is expected to receive a large number of children of the age-group 11-14 years which may be resulted due to increase in enrolment at the primary level in the years which follow.
Both the estimates of out-of-school children and additional enrolment required to achieve the goal of UPE are presented only at the all-India level. However, the estimates at the all-India level are useful to only a limited extant to know the quantum of the unfinished task. But the same is failed to identify the states and within the states, the districts and blocks where out-of-school children concentrate mainly because of the non-availability of the requisite data at these levels. One of the crucial variables that is required for computing out-of-school children is the age-grade matrix which is not readily available. However, a few estimates that are available is confined mostly to the all-India level and hence cannot be applied to the state level data to obtain out-of-school children. Thus, the 15 per cent flat rate, which has been applied to the all-India data, if applied to the state data may result into the misleading estimates of the out-of-school children. This is also evident from the gross enrolment ratio, which in a number of states has been noticed to be very high even higher than 115 per cent. Hence, due to above limitations, the 15 per cent estimate of grossness is not applied to obtain refined enrolment at the state level for that purpose the state-specific estimates are best to use. However, if the full set of the NCERT data is available, the estimate of grossness can be generated even at the district level.
6.0 Universal Retention
Using the survey data between the period 1986-87 and 1993-94, drop-out rate at the elementary level has been computed and the same is presented in the Table 24. At the all-India level, the drop-out rate reveals that of the 100 children who had taken admission in Grade I in the year 1986-87, only 40 managed to reach Grade VIII in the year 1993-94. Similarly, about 58 and 63 per cent boys and girls dropped-out from the system. The drop-out rate otherwise indicates that the retention rate at the elementary level was 42 per cent for boys and 37 per cent for girls. In absolute terms, about 8.3 million boys and 6.6 million girls dropped-out from the system before the completion of an education cycle. However, the grade-to-grade drop-out rates, if computed, would indicate that the majority of children dropped-out from the system before reaching Grade III (Mehta, 1995,2) but the same cannot be computed as the NCERT survey data is not available for the two consecutive years required for the computation of the drop-out rate.
At the state level, a mixed trend in drop-out rate has been noticed (Table 24). It has been observed that the drop-out rate is found to be the lowest in Kerala followed by Delhi, Daman & Diu, Chandigarh etc. Among the major states, the highest drop-out rate is noticed in the case of Bihar (78 per cent) followed by Rajasthan (76 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (74 per cent), West Bengal (73 per cent) and Orissa (68 per cent). Comparatively the drop-out rate in Uttar Pradesh is low where as many as fifty per cent of those who had taken admission in Grade I in 1986-87 reached to Grade VIII in the year 1993-94. Further, the boys/girls differential in drop-out rate at the elementary level has also been critically analysed. In Assam, Nagaland and Delhi, no difference was noticed in the boys/girls drop-out rate where as in states, such as, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Punjab, Sikkim and Tripura, it was negligible. In rest of the states, the differential was significant and of the high order.
It has also been noticed that the states where the drop-out rate is high, the corresponding boys/girls differential is also of the high order. Some of these states are, Madhya Pradesh (13 per cent), Gujarat (10 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (8 per cent), Rajasthan (7 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (6 per cent). Keeping in view the high dropout rate in Bihar, comparatively the boys/girls differential was low (6 per cent) as it was just one per cent above the all-India average i.e. 5 per cent. Thus, unless all the children who enter into the system are retained and boys/girls differential is reduced to a significant effect, the goal of UEE, especially in the educationally backward states, is unlikely to be achieved in the near future. A number of incentive schemes have been initiated both by the state governments and as a part of the centrally sponsored schemes among which the mid-day meal scheme is the recent one but is still facing the teething problems. Even, many states are not keen to initiate the scheme due to administrative and other problems. It is not only the incentives which help to retain the child in the system but the research findings reveal that the infrastructural facilities available in a school and leadership provided by the school head master/teacher also plays an important role in retaining the children in the system. The Operation Blackboard scheme initiated in 1987 ensured at least two instructional rooms and teachers but a large number of primary schools still have only one teacher and do not have adequate infrastructural facilities. However, the most important problem that remains is the proper utilisation of facilities in whatever forms they available and its adequacy and timely supply.
7.0 Concluding Remarks
Based on the analysis presented above on different components of UEE one gets the impression that the country has progressed tremendously but still it has certain areas of concern which are primarily responsible for unfulfillment of the goal of UEE. Across the states, educational facilities are now available to a large segment of population and areas but compared to primary schooling facilities, the upper primary facilities are not yet available to all the population. Despite the significant achievement, still a large number of habitations do not have primary and upper primary education facilities respectively within a distance of one and three kilometers. The country also failed to adequately create, utilise and made available alternative education facilities in all the unserved habitations and areas where out-of-school children concentrate. Over a period of time, the ratio of primary to upper primary schools has declined but still the same is not as envisaged in the policy directives. This is more so important when transition from primary to upper primary level over time has improved significantly which means more and more school places that would be required in the years, which follow. In addition, a large number of projects and programmes on primary education that are currently under implementation in different parts of the country would also generate additional demand for the upper primary education.
Keeping in view a large number of unserved habitations and villages and availability of only a few non-formal education centres, it may not be possible to bring all enrolled children either under the formal or non-formal system of education. The coverage of non-formal education both in terms of the habitations covered and number of learners do not indicate that the programme will able to succeed in the near future. Hence, not only more formal and non-formal education facilities need to be created but the existing institutions will also have to be strengthened both in terms of the teachers and facilities.
The number of teachers and pupil-teacher ratio over time has improved significantly but despite the Operation Blackboard scheme still there are schools which do not have adequate number of teachers. This is also true in case of the NFE centres. The percentage of female teachers to total teachers has no doubt improved significantly but still their number is far from satisfactory. Teacher is the most important actor of the system and all interventions are expected to reflect in the classroom transactions and hence training plays an important role. Studies have shown that internal management of school and the leadership provided by the head teacher/master and his/her relationship with other teachers also plays a significant role in efficient and effective functioning of the school.
The responsibility of training is entrusted to the District Institutes of Educational Training (DIETs) but still a majority of the DIETs are not fully equipped to handle this mammoth task mainly because of the shortage of faculty and lack of expertise. In most of the cases, the teachers training schools are promoted as to DIETs but still their activities centred around only to teachers training and the faculty is not actively involved in planning and implementation of educational plans. With the creation of the proposed State Institute of Educational Management and Training (SIEMT) under the DPEP, the training activities are expected to get momentum but only a few states have yet established the SIEMT. The SIEMT in rest of the DPEP states is still at the planning stage and hence would take more time to be fully operationalised. In the non-DPEP states, either the institutes similar to the SIEMT need to be created or the existing SCERTs will have to be strengthened adequately. Below the district level, Block Resource Centre, Cluster Resource Centre and Village Education Committees (VECs) are proposed to be created under the DPEP but except VECs, such bodies are not yet envisaged to create in the non-DPEP districts. In most of the states, VECs are created through a government order but are not fully entrusted the powers and responsibilities as envisaged in the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments on the Panchayati Raj Institutions.
The enrolment at the primary and upper primary levels of education has improved significantly (in absolute and ratio forms) but still more girls are out-of-school than their boys counterparts. The GER at the primary level is quite high but the corresponding ratio for girls is still low which is despite the fact that a large number of over-age and under-age children are included in enrolment. The enrolment ratio at the upper primary level is still lower than at the primary level, all which do not indicate that the country is in a position to achieve the goal of UEE in the near future. Unless the goal of UPE is achieved, the dream of UEE is not likely to be realised. Till then imparting upper primary education to all primary graduates will be treated as achieving UEE.
The analysis also indicate that a large number of children enter into the system every year but majority of them dropped out from the system before reaching Grade V and Grade VIII which severely affects the efficiency of the education system. If a child continued up to the Grade III, his/her chances of completing the primary cycle is bright but the available data shows that one out of every three children dropped out from the system before reaching Grade III. Thus, unless the drop-out rate is checked and all unenrolled children of the age-group 6-14 years are brought under the canopy of education, the dream of universal enrolment may not be realised which is also supported by the recent findings of the projection exercises. The unfinished task in terms of unenrolled and out-of-school children indicates that the task is challenging. Hence, rigorous efforts are needed to bring them under the umbrella of education and to retain them in the system. Disaggregated planning with block as its unit may help to identify the focus group and areas where out-of-school children concentrate. The community can play a vital role in bringing out the unenrolled children to schools for which they need to conduct micro planning related exercises and develop village education plans. This has already been initiated in the DPEP districts and the response is encouraging. Even, a large number of local people and functionaries are involved in developing the district plans, which if experimented in other non-DPEP districts and states may bring a sea change in the quality of planning exercises and its implementation. But the funds, which are allocated to DPEP irrespective of the districts, have not been utilised as planned and most of the activities are concentrated on to the civil works. Despite the low utilisation of funds, preliminary trends in enrolment and retention is encouraging and more than the expectations even though a large chunk of the funds allocated on to retention and quality of education related activities in most of the districts have not been fully utilised. Hence, till the funds are utilsed as planned, the DPEP is also not expected to improve the situation to a significant effect.
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