Status of School Education in India: Observations based on UDISE+ 2018-19 Data

Arun C Mehta
Formally Professor & Head of EMIS Department
NIEPA, New Delhi (India)
(E-mail: [email protected])

Introduction
It may be recalled that U-DISE is the main source of information on school education in India which has also attained the status of the Official Statistics from the year 2012-13 onwards. It may also be observed that from the year 2018-19, U-DISE was shifted from NIEPA to Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education/HRD which had managed it since the inception in 1994-95 to 2017-18.  By now 2020-21 data must have been in the public domain but the same along with 2019-20 data is yet to be made available because of which 2018-19 is the latest set of data available in the public domain but the same is not complete as most of the indicators used to be disseminated at disaggregated levels previously is simply not available or are being added in installments on its online portal.   Even the number of schools, enrolment and teachers presented on U-DISE+ portal has changed. Also the Performance Grading Index (PGI) based on 2018-19 data computed by the ministry was also initially based on incomplete set of U-DISE+ 2018-19 data. Given these limitations, U-DISE 2017-18 data is the latest year but the same till recently was also yet to be disseminated by NIEPA (Readied in August 2018 now uploaded on April 2021 without ritual Foreword and From the VC’s Desk). Fortunately, through the U-DISE Reporter Module, raw as well as processed data for 2017-18 was available which has been used in the present note in knowing the status of School Education in India (later even link to download 2017-18 data was removed).

Status of School Education in India (MS-Word)
Status of School Education in India (PDF)
Status of School Education in India Tables (MS-Word)
Status of School Education in India Tables (PDF)

Through the U-DISE+ portal, the number of schools, enrolment and teachers for 2018-19 with a few selective indicators is available in the public domain which has also been used wherever necessary (http://dashboard.udiseplus.gov.in/#!/reports). It is also important to mention that the process of 2020-21 U-DISE data collection must have been initiated on 30th September 2020 (now states are in process of initiating the same in April 2021) but the same is yet to be initiated in view of which the time-lag in the availability of educational statistics which was brought down to less than a year at the district and state levels and a year at the national level has again started increasing. The practice of using the same years’ data in formulating Annual Work Plans & Budget (AWP&B) under SSA/RMSA/Samagra Shiksha and their appraisal during the Project Approval Board meeting has already been forfeited by more than two years which is a big setback to the process of strengthening EMIS in the Country but as it seems that it is not an issue to anyone, no one has raised the issue of widening gap between the data collection and data dissemination. Not a single publication based on U-DISE+ 2018-19 data has yet been brought out by the Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Education which was otherwise a regular feature when the same was managed by the NIEPA, New Delhi.

A cursory look at the available information prima facia one gets the impression that not much improvement is visible as most of the indicators reflecting on different aspects of universal school education look almost stationary for the last ten years and there is no evidence that the rich dataset is being optimally utilized in formulating district plans which is otherwise an annual exercise and is being applied to all the districts of the Country. In addition, a huge decline in enrolment in general and primary classes, in particular, has adversely affected efforts being made to gain the target of universal enrolment. Since 2009, the year in which the Right to Education Act 2009 was enacted, district plans lack targets on different aspects of universalization which were otherwise regular features of plans developed previously; they were Gross and Net enrolment ratios, retention and transition rates, entry rates, and dropout rates and other such indicators reflecting on different aspects of universalization. Instead, local authorities are supposed to identify out-of-school children annually and impart them special training duration of which vary from 3 months to 2 years and made them to sit in the age-appropriate grades which are hard to be seen and is true for across the Country.

In this note, only critical indicators that influence universal school education have been analyzed apart from the basic information regarding coverage of schools in terms of enrolment and a host of a few other indicators.

Coverage

As against 15,35,610 schools covered in U-DISE 2016-17, as many as 15,58,940 schools spread over 721 districts from 7,457 blocks in  82,952 clusters located in 5,94,130 villages were covered during the year 2017-18; thus showing an increase of 23,330 schools (1.52 percent) against which a total of only 15,51,000 schools are reported to have been covered during 2018-19 through U-DISE+; thus showing a decline of 7,940 schools (0.51 percent). Schools by management further show that the decline in coverage of schools is limited to Government schools which is to the tune of 10,789 schools (0.99 percent) which is also resulted in a decline in the total number of teachers (32.187, 0.65 percent) and enrolment (30,39,264, 2.31 percent) in 2018-19 over the previous year i.e. 2017-18; thus indicating an under the coverage of the total schools in 2018-19 through U-DISE+ operations that need thorough investigation and explanation. Decline in 2018-19 is a bit higher if the Government Aided schools are considered: Teachers:  20,881 (2.48 percent) & Enrolment: 4,58,892 (1.64 percent). In addition, U-DISE also covers unrecognized schools and Madrass all which  had also declined in 2018-19. On the other hand, schools (3,986 schools), as well as teachers (2,32,240 teachers) and enrolment (8,14,114 enrolment) in private unaided schools, have shown an increasing trend during the same period. Decline in coverage is mainly because of decline in number of schools in Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand against increase in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The decline in schools, teachers, and enrolment in 2018-19 through U-DISE+ operations raises serious concern about of quality of data been collected (coverage, quality, sharing, consistency, dissemination in terms of publications, and timely & optimal utilization of data so collected) which need a thorough explanation as the same has serious implication for India to move towards the goal of universal school enrolment. Before 2020-21 data collection, a large number of schools across India are now approaching U-DISE+ authorities to obtain 11-digit unique identification code many of which also had approached during the previous year but because of the procedure adopted (approval at the state level), most of them remain uncovered. U-DISE up to 2017-18 was being managed by the academicians supported by professionals which is lacking now in U-DISE+ which is being managed by technical persons having lacking in understanding of basic concepts of education, educational indicators and even concept of an MIS. The decline in enrolment would adversely affect all enrolment based indicators which if analyzed at the disaggregated level may reveal more about the status of universal school education in India.

Facility Indicators

As has already been mentioned that most of the facility indicators remain almost stagnant (Table 2) in the recent past.  All schools (I to XII, 15,58,903 schools) together revels that more than 98 percent of schools in 2017-18 had a school building; the lowest percentage of such schools is observed in the case of Secondary Schools consisting only Grades IX and X (92.30 percent) and the highest 99.14 percent in case of integrated Higher Secondary schools but in absolute terms, the number is limited to only 52,833 schools of the total 15,58,903 schools. However, U-DISE+ reported that 9,410 (0.61 percent) of the total 15,51,000 schools reported not having school building in 2018-19 majority of which are the schools run by the Department of Education (5,131 schools, 54.53 percent).

Despite improved facilities, still a majority of schools in India didn’t have electricity connection, computer facility and internet connection which are crucial in imparting online education/learning in digital mode because of the ongoing pandemic in view of which the next section deals with a detailed analysis of schools having computer and internet connectivity which is also crucial for online U-DISE+.

Schools having Electricity & Computer Facility: 2017-18

Schools having electricity connection, computer, functional computer, and internet connection presented at the all-India level for the year 2017-18 and in a few selected states reveals that our schools are not equipped to meet challenges caused by the pandemic. Even the basic requirement such as, the electricity connection is yet to be provided to the majority of schools which is true for both the rural and urban areas. A glance at the Table 3 reveals that of the total 1.5 million schools engaged in school education in the country, only 63.14 percent of schools have got the electricity connection compared to a little more than 50 percent of such primary schools. It is also true that just schools having electricity connections don’t necessarily mean that schools get an uninterrupted power supply. It has also been observed in the past that schools generally do not have separate funds to pay electricity bills because of which generally observed that even schools have a connection but they do not have power in school. Maybe The Saubhagya Scheme or Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana launched by the Prime Minister will help electricity reach our remaining schools.

Another crucial indicator is the availability of computers and internet connection in schools both of which are yet to be provided in the majority of schools in India. Of the total 1.5 million schools, only about 20 percent of schools have got a computer as against 12.20 percent such primary schools. Unfortunately, the percentage of working/functional computers in schools is as low as 13.07 percent (all schools) and 4.19 percent (primary only schools). The state-wise percentage of schools with working computers (Table 4) further reveals that the same in Bihar is as low as 0.51 percent compared to 3 percent in Uttar Pradesh, about 5 percent in Jharkhand, 4 percent in Assam, 5 percent in Madhya Pradesh, and 3 percent in Odisha. On the other hand, schools in a few states such as Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, and Gujarat have got electricity connection in majority of schools but the percentage of schools with a working computer, except Delhi (68.25 percent) is still very low. Schools with working computers need not have internet connection as only about 14 percent of schools have internet connection compared to only about 4 percent of primary schools.

Despite the lack of digital devices to receive on-line content, both in the households and also in schools, online education in different modes was launched during COVID19 which may have further widened the inequalities across the country. Any Where-Any Mode-Any Time Education in different modes, such as audio, video multi-media, etc. is being widely used across the country. Are the deprived further at the disadvantage stages? Limited information available on this aspect suggests so. It may be recalled that the Government of India announced the nation-wide lockdown on March 23, 2020, following which both the Central as well as State Governments promptly made available online resources on different platforms (laptops, desktops, and mobile phones and also through Radio and Television Sets) most of which were already available in the public domain. Despite all efforts, the limited available information suggests that the contents are yet to reach all segments of the population (about 240 million students) because of the inadequate number of devices at household/home and those who could get access all of them couldn’t use the resources because of the one or the other reason.

Enrolment-based Indicators

Gross and Net Enrolment Ratio as well as Age-specific Enrolment Ratio and Adjusted-NER at different levels of schools education and corresponding age-group, such as 6 to 10+, 11 to 13+, 6 to 13+, etc. have been analyzed (Table 5). In addition, efficiency indicators, such as, average annual drop-out rate, retention and transition rates both at the state  as well as at all-India level have also been analyzed all which have implication for India achieving goal of universal school education.

Table 5 presents a variety of enrolment based indicators at different levels of education at the all-India level which reveals that despite significant improvement in all spheres of school education in India, the goal of universal school education is stall a far distant dream which is not likely to be realized shortly. Enrolment decline as has already been specified above during 2018-19 over the previous 2017-18 is in the tune of 2.63 million will further deteriorate efforts being made towards achieving the goal of school education in general and universal primary education in particular which is reflected in enrolment ratio at the primary level of education. Despite the significant decline in enrolment no hue and cry are being made as if it has nothing to do with the ongoing efforts being made through the national-wide Samagra Shiksha programme. It is hoped that the Project Approval Board would seek an explanation from the states that have shown a significant decline in enrolment during its next appraisal due in May 2021? May be the first year of U-DISE+ i.e. 2018-19 would now become the bench mark year in future to compare the status but which itself is not free from limitations. During 2017-18 to 2018-19, enrolment in Grade I declined to 24.75 million from 25.09 million in 2017-18; thus showing a decline of 3.33 thousand in absolute terms or 1.3 percent in percentage form. It is also worth to mention that a huge decline of about 59 million enrolment was noticed in 2017-18 when Student Data Management Information System (SDMIS) in-sync with U-DISE was launched during 2016-17 data collection but thereafter was discontinued for the unknown reasons. NPE 2020 has now recommended development of a system to track students and their leaning.

Primary Level

Irrespective of a type of enrolment ratio, a steep decline has been observed across enrolment types amongst which GER at the primary level is the steepest one which has decline to 92.56 in 2018-19 from its previous 102.79 level in 2017-18 because of which enrolment ratio at upper primary, secondary and higher secondary levels may see a steep decline in years that follow.

A Gross Enrolment Ratio of 92.56 percent in 2018-19 indicates that roughly about 7 percent of children including the overage and underage ones are yet to be enrolled against which 89.14 percent children of age 6+ to 10+ years are enrolled in Grades I to V; thus indicting that remaining 11 percent children are not enrolled in Grades I to V but all of them may not be treated as out of school as a few of them may be enrolled in higher grades for which the Adjusted-NER is computed. A 93.60 percent Adjusted-NER indicated that 94 percent of the total 6+ to 10+-year-old children are enrolled but not necessarily in the corresponding Grades I to V. This otherwise also indicate that the remaining 6 percent of the total 6+ to 10+-year-old children are not enrolled either in corresponding Grades I to V and or higher grades. On the other hand, 94.26 percent Age-specific Enrolment Ratio indicate that 94 percent of the total 6+ to 10+-year-old is enrolled and the remaining 6 percent are yet to be enrolled which is huge if the size of the population is somewhat 118 million. Please also observe that 2018-19 figures are that of before COVID-19 which was first noticed in January 2020 in India because of which schools experienced large number of drop outs which is not confined only to government schools but has also affected small private unaided schools. Year 2019-20 and 2020-21 may see further decline in enrolment; thus affecting severely efforts being made in India towards universal school education through the ongoing Samagra Shiksha. It is also interesting to observe that except Lakshadweep, all remaining States & UTs have shown significant decline in GER in 2018-19 over the previous year 2017-18. The mute question which must be answered is whether decline is real or because of the incomplete coverage of schools under U-DISE+ during the 2018-19 data collection.

Upper Primary Level

Net Enrolment Ratio at Upper Primary level indicate that the same has declined to 68.99 percent in 2018-19 from its previous level, 70.52 percent thus indicating that 31 percent of the total 11+ to 13+ year children are not enrolled in the corresponding Grades VI to VIII which is considered as huge towards achieving the goal of universal elementary enrolment (Table 7). On the other hand, a 76.97 percent Adj-NER indicates that about 33 percent of the total 11+ to 13+ children are yet to be enrolled in corresponding Grades VI to VIII or higher grades. On the other hand, 88.55 percent Age-specific enrolment ratio at upper primary level indicate that about 11 percent children of age-group 11+ to 13+ are yet to be enrolled. All such children must be identified and be provided special training to make them to sit in the age-appropriate grade before the formulation of 2021-22 annual plans under the ongoing Samagra Shiksha. State-specific NER at the upper primary level further indicates that the same has declined in 2018-19 in most of the states with Bihar (71.01 percent), Gujarat (72.80 percent), Jharkhand (71.18 percent), Madhya Pradesh (69.57 percent), Uttar Pradesh (58.26 percent) and West Bengal (71.65 percent) having low to very low NER all which indicate task ahead is challenging one and need meticulous planning at all levels.

Elementary Level

In addition to primary and upper primary levels of education, enrolment ratios have also been analyzed at the elementary level of education. An NER of 81.46 percent at elementary level indicate that a significant 19 percent children of 6+ to 13+ years are not enrolled in the corresponding Grades I to VIII. The remaining children of this age group may either be out of school or a few of them may either be enrolled in higher grades (Table 8). Adjusted-NER further suggests that a little over 87 percent are enrolled either in Grades I to VIII or also in the higher grades. On the other hand, a 92.08 percent Age-specific enrolment ratio suggests that only 8 percent of children of 6+ to 13+ years are yet to be enrolled (15 million) which in absolute terms is quite high as the size of the total population of this age group is 188 million. Please be informed that the child population used in computing enrolment ratios are estimated based on 2011 population adjusted to projections based on 2001 projections which are highly excepted to be off the mark. It is also important to know that in the past wide deviation was observed in enrolment ratios computed based on projected population and one based on actual census population. If India wants to achieve the goal of universal elementary enrolment, it has to give attention to large states, such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and other such states having low enrolment ratio at the elementary level of education.  I have been engaged in such analysis since the 1990s and sorry to observe that we are still dealing with the same issues today even in 2021.

Quite disappointed to discuss the status of secondary and higher secondary levels of education as the net enrolment ratio is reported to be as low as 48.60 and 30.78 percent respectively which indicate that more than 50 and 70 percent of children of the corresponding age groups in 2018-19 were yet to be enrolled (Tables 9 & 10). Can secondary and higher secondary levels can grow independently? Certainly not. Enrolment in secondary level i.e. Grades IX & X is not a function of the corresponding age-specific population i.e. 14-15 years but is a function of elementary graduates i.e. those who successfully pass Grade VIII. Thus unless the efficiency of the elementary level of education is improved to a significant effect, neither the goal of universal secondary nor higher secondary education can be achieved. Therefore, in the next section, a few of the efficiency-related indicators are critically analyzed.

Dropout Rate

On the one hand there is a steep decline in enrolment and on the other hand, those who stay do not complete an educational level and leave the system before the completion. It may be recalled that for computing flow rates, such as promotion, drop out and repetition rate, two years grade-wise enrolment and one year repeaters data in the current year is required. Do not know how U-DISE+ produced 2018-19 drop out rate when its latest data is available for the year 2018-19? The officers involved looking after U-DISE+ from 2018-19 must be thoroughly oriented towards computation of educational indicators, its meaning and interpretation & implication for universal enrolment. The dropout claimed to be of 2018-19, in fact is for cohort 2017-18 and is based on grade-wise enrolment for two consecutive years, say 2017-18 and 2018-19 and current year grade-wise repeaters, i.e. year 2018-19. Clarification from the data managers may clear air in removing doubts about the methodology used in computing flow rates including drop out rate which is one of the important aspect of Samagra Shiksha.

Table 11 presents the dropout rate at primary, upper primary, and secondary levels of education for both Cohorts 2016-17 and 2017-18 in the case of General, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes population as well as for all together. The drop-out rate at the primary level, irrespective of the social category has shown a decline for the 2017-18 cohort from its previous level i.e. 2016-17 cohort which is obvious because of the steep decline in enrolment during 2017-18 and 2018-19.  Of the total enrolment (123.81 million) in Grades I to V in 2016-17, 3.51 percent dropped out from the system before the completion of a grade as against 4.45 percent during the year 2017-18. It may be recalled that the size of enrolment in primary grades in 2017-18 was in the tune of 122.38 million in 2017-18. A 4.45 percent drop out at all-India level is termed as average annual drop out rate which over the primary cycle of five years come to around 17.8 percent which means that of the total enrolment in Grades I to V, roughly about 18 percent dropped out from the system before the completion of primary level. Both the SC (5.16 percent) and ST (5,48 percent) categories also reported a high drop-out rate compared to 4.37 percent in the case of the OBC category. Barring the General category, contrary to general belief dropout rate in the case of boys is a bit higher than their counterpart girls which are true for the SC, ST, and OBC children.

A glance at the state-specific drop-out rate at the primary level of education (Table 12) further reveals that about 11 states have drop-out rates higher than the national average of 4.45 as against 10 states having lower rates at the upper primary level (national average 4.68 percent). At the secondary level, irrespective of boys and girls, the dropout rate is very high barring a few states such as Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, and Kerala. A few states from the north-eastern region, such as Arunachal Pradesh (13.78 percent), Meghalaya (16.88 percent), and Nagaland (11.41 percent) are having the drop out rate above 10 percent in case of primary level. On the other hand, Bihar (7.76 percent) and Uttar Pradesh (9.71 percent), the most populous states of the country having high dropout rate is unless checked, the goal of universal primary education may not be cherished in the near future. At the upper primary level, Bihar (12.43 percent), Chhattisgarh (7.02 percent), Gujarat (7.39 percent), Jharkhand (10.21 percent), Madhya Pradesh (5.93 percent) and Uttar Pradesh (5.74 percent) have high drop out rate all which suggests that the top most priority must be given to theses states to check high incident of drop out. Further, it has been observed that compared to drop out at the primary and upper primary level, the same at the secondary level is alarmingly high at 17.87 percent in addition to which states like Bihar also having a high drop out (28.46 percent) rate at this level of education all which suggest immediate planning to tackle the same. On the one hand, there is a high incidence of drop out at the primary level and those who complete the primary level do not stay and drop out before they complete the upper primary level of education. Besides, all those who complete the upper primary level of education, do not necessarily been transited to the next level of education because of which the next indicator we discuss below is the transition rate.

 Transition Rate

The Transition Rate for the year 2017-18 presented in the Table 13 reveals that about 91 percent of children transit from the primary to upper primary level of education and no significant deviation is observed between boys and girls transition rate. However, more children from the general category (94 percent) transit from primary to upper primary level compared to 87, 88, and 89 percent children transit from the SC, ST, and OBC category. The transition rate remains almost stagnant for the past so many years. On the one hand, a good number of children left the system before the completion of primary level, and on the other hand, about ten percent of children drop out from the system in transition; thus severely affecting the efforts being made through the Samagra Shiksha. There is no option but to improve the efficiency of the primary education system which must send an adequate number of primary graduates to upper primary system. Thereafter children must continue in Grades VI to VIII and complete Grade VIII and transit to the first grade of the next higher level, i.e. Grade IX of secondary level. As a part of the annual exercise, before the 2021-22 plan is formulated under Samagra Shiksha, all out-of-school children including those who drop out must be identified and given reason-specific intervention to check the high incidence of drop out which is across school levels. If not, we may continue as we have been for the last almost two decades. The gains that we achieved towards universal enrolment are slowly but surely being losing fast and we are back to square one.

The state-specific transition rate presented in Table 14 indicates that only three states, namely Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh have a lower transition rate than at the national average of 91 percent from primary to upper primary level against nine and 12 states from the elementary to secondary and from secondary to higher secondary level of education. Further, it is observed that the lowest 77 percent transition rate has been observed in the state of Bihar and the highest, 100 in a couple of states. Further, no significant difference is observed in boys and girls transition from the primary to upper primary levels of education and from elementary to secondary level of education; however, in a few states more girls used to transit than their boy’s counterpart in case of secondary to higher secondary level of education. The transition rate in the populous states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh is unless improved, India may not move towards achieving the goal of school education in the real sense. It is sorry to observe that in most of the efficiency and enrolment based indictors no visible improvement has been

noticed which is despite the flagship Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme in the past and Samagra Shiksha which is currently under implementation across the country. Let the whole exercise of plan formulation is made an academic exercise rather than the mechanical one based on a few sets of EXCEL Tables. Also, wider participation at all levels is required in formulating plans. Like DPEP, the national level institutions, such as NIEPA are again given a leading role in developing planning methodology and capacity building of officers engaged at the district and state level.  Even at the national level intensive orientation on planning methodology, construction, and use of indicators and its implications for the entire school education be given to those who manage Samagra Shiksha without which no improvement is expected towards achieving the objectives of school education. India may not afford to continue long the way it is managing its affairs concerning school education.

 Retention Rate

 The last indicator which we discuss below also falls under the category of efficiency indicators is retention rate at the primary and elementary level which gives us information about the retaining capacity of the system (Table 15). Grade V enrolment is linked to enrolment in Grade I five years back as against Grade VIII enrolment is linked to Grade I enrolment 8 years back and so at the secondary and higher secondary levels of education.  A look at Table 15 reveals that that prima-facie it looks that both boys and girls almost equally retain which is true for across levels of education. A retention rate of 86.30 percent at the primary level of education indicate that only 86 of the total 100 children who entered the system five years back could able to reach Grade V; the balance of 14 children couldn’t reach Grade V in 2018-19 and dropped out from the system however a few of them still be in the system because of the repetition. It may be recalled that the average annual drop out rate in 2018-19 at the primary level presented above is 4.45 percent which also otherwise indicate that about 17.80 percent of the total enrolment in Grades I to V couldn’t remain in the system which is huge in the size if the size of total primary enrolment is in the tune of 122.38 million. The retention rate of girls at the primary level of education (86.90 percent) is a bit higher than their counterpart boy (85.70 percent); which is also true for many states. On the other hand, 67 percent children of those who enrolled in Grade I eight years back could only reach Grade VIII in 2018-19 which otherwise indicate that 33 percent of the total enrolled couldn’t remain in the system; however, a few of them may still be in the system because of the repetition.  On the other hand, only 56.90 and 38.00 percent could remain in the secondary and higher secondary levels of education indicating about 43 and 52 percent of the total enrolment couldn’t remain and dropped out from the system. Not only the secondary and higher secondary levels of education but even universal primary and elementary education is not at all in sight which is quite similar to the situation a decade back. The situation is quite disappointing as it is despite the ongoing programmes, such as Samagra Shiksha (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) on which huge investment is being made even though the same has shown a decline in the recent years.

Concluding Observations

Despite the high incidence of drop out a few could manage to complete primary, elementary and other levels of education but many of those who complete doesn’t fulfill minimum levels of learning requirements as indicated in the National Achievement Survey conducted by the NCERT in 2017-18. The enrolment-based indicators discussed above fail to capture the learning ability of students and are purely termed as quantitative. It is of little use if students retain and pass out Grades V, VIII, etc but couldn’t’ even meet the learning requirements of students of Grade I or III. Because of NPE 2020 policy alignment in Samagra Shiksha, a whole new set of indicators will be required to be developed and because of that the meaning of universalization also needs to be re-defined. In the meantime, we can re-look into the set of existing enrollment-based indicators and explore whether we can have better alternative indicators. The GER, NER, Age-specific ER, Adjusted-NER, Transition Rate, and Retention rates analyzed both at the all-India and state levels suggest that even in quantitative terms India is still far away from attaining the status of universal primary education in a real sense less we achieve the universal elementary and secondary level of education. We have not yet analyzed indicators falling under the category of the universal quality of education. The low level of participation at the primary level and high incidence of drop out suggest that the system is inefficient and not supplying an adequate number of primary graduates to the upper primary level of education in the absence of which upper primary level of education is not adequately growing. Needless to mention that upper primary and other higher levels of education cannot grow on their own as upper primary is not a function of the corresponding age-specific population i.e. 11+ to 13+ years but it is the function of primary graduates. Therefore, there is no option but to improve the efficiency of the primary level of education and further improve the transition from primary to the upper primary level of education. None of the levels of education can grow independent to the immediate lower level which is also true for higher education level which as envisaged in NPE 2020 cannot attain a 50 percent increase in enrolment unless the higher secondary level supplies the adequate number of graduates to it.