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Implications for Education

cess has been increased from 2 to 3 per Implications for Education cent this year, the implications of which Budget 2007 has increased allocation for basic education and initiated some fresh measures to deal with the dropout rate. However, issues related to technical education, alternative streams of education, increased allocation for secondary education and state governments

Implications for Education

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Economic and Political WeeklyApril 7, 20071274yardsticks as far as elementary educationis concerned. First, the stated outcomes ofSSA are: (i) to bring all out-of-schoolchildren into school, and (ii) to ensurethatall children complete eight years ofelementary school. This was supposed tohave been achieved by the end of the TenthPlan period, a target that has already beenmissed. The MHRD website states that asof March 2005, there were 1.04 crore out-of-school children in the country, areductionof 1.45 crore between 2002-03and 2004-05.While school enrolment has certainlyincreased over the last four years inaccordancewith the first objective of SSA,the most pressing concern is the lack ofprogress in the second one. Analysis ofthe impact of budgetary allocations iscomplicated by the lack of recent data. Asper official MHRD statement, “dropoutrate has declined by 4.14 percentagepoints between 2001-02 and 2002-03from39.03 to 34.89 per cent, which is anencouraging trend. Data for 2004-05statuswill only be available by next year”(http://education.nic.in). By any yardstick,this is hardly “encouraging”. Moreover,detailed notes on the demand for grants ofMHRD only provides data on the approv-als of new school buildings, classrooms,toilets, drinking water facilities, teacherappointment and training. Obtaining theactual figures for each of these vital com-ponents of SSA is at best difficult, and atworst, impossible.The difficulty in addressing the dropoutrate stems from a variety of factors. Theofficial survey on out-of-school childrenconducted in 2005 indicates that in poorstates where the dropout rate is high, themajor reasons for not being in school are“working to support the family” and“sibling care”. School-related factors suchas distance and curriculum are relativelyless important. What this implies is thatbetter school buildings, facilities and teach-ers are definitely necessary but certainlynot sufficient conditions for reducingdropout rates. Demand-side factors are asimportant as supply-side inputs, especiallyfor girl students.Second, although children drop out overthe whole elementary cycle, there are twospikes in the dropout rate – between pri-mary and upper primary (Class 5 to 6) andupper primary to secondary (Class 8 to 9).The current elementary education systemin India is an amalgamation of “primary”and “middle” schools. It is a relativelynewconcept with its attendant problems.While there is a wide network of primaryschools (Class 1 to 5 in most states), thenumber of middle schools are far less thanrequired. In many cases, distance fromupper primary school increases substan-tially when children progress from pri-mary to upper primary sections.This is highlighted in Table 2 at a dis-aggregated level for 15 major states,accountingfor nearly 90 per cent of India’stotal school enrolment. The primary schoolcohort in the year 1999-2000 will becomethe upper primary cohort and one year ofhigh school cohort in 2003-04, the last yearfor which official figures are available.Similarly, the upper primary cohort in2000-01 will be the high school cohort in2003-04. Leaving aside questions of dataquality, there are two significant obser-vations from Table 2. First, the all-Indiatransition rate from primary to upper pri-mary is lower than from upper primary tosecondary. Second, those states that havelow primary to upper primary transitionrate (below 60 per cent) have higher tran-sition rates for upper primary to secondarysections. The reverse is true for states withtransition rates above 60 per cent. Thecaveat is that we are not comparing thetransition of the same cohort. Also, thetransition rate is calculated net of drop-outs within the cohort andmainstreamingof out-of-school children.Budget 2007 seeks to address the prob-lem of dropout in school education througha two-pronged approach. It extends theMDM scheme to all children in elementaryschool. With the exception of a few stateslike Tamil Nadu, MDM currently coversonly children studying in classes 1 to 5.Consequently, the allocation for MDM hasbeen increased by more than 50 per cent,from Rs 4,813 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 7,324crore for the coming fiscal year. As perthe guidelines, the financial obligation onthe part of the state governments will bein the order of Rs 1,831 crore.Given the current level of commitmentby the state governments, it is debatablewhether the scaling-up of MDM will beachieved within the next few years. Italso begs the question whether onlyMDM will be able to make a dent in thedropout rate between primary and upperTable 3: Budgetary Allocation for Seconday, Higher and Technical Education(Rs crore)2004-052005-062006-072007-08Growth RateGrowth Rate2006-07 to2004-05 to2007-082006-07Secondary1434159118373794106.528.1Higher179621082774389240.354.5Technical1595160017183870125.37.7Source: Budget papers, various years.Table 2: Cohort Analysis of Primary and Upper Primary Enrolment Primary to Upper PrimaryUpperPrimary to SecondaryStates(I-V) in(VI-X) inTransition(VI -VIII) in(IX -XI) inTransition1998-99 2003-04 Rate2000-012003-04Rate(Per Cent)(Per Cent)Andhra Pradesh8797662509933058.02823352222186578.7Assam382701594995224.8150548780737553.6Bihar10473252383824736.62551107138213354.2Gujarat6146281362065258.92224181144552665.0Haryana2092162163073977.993501472370477.4Himachal Pradesh69441264283992.641278431124975.4Karnataka6501200418085664.32756492164873959.8Kerala26603852728174102.51788888110981362.0Madhya Pradesh10772999590577854.83482586207918659.7Maharashtra11896099896404575.45337562375667770.4Orissa4080000227305155.7146500093228263.6Punjab2168072159177673.499054271187471.9Rajasthan7204000394716554.83278440139600342.6Tamil Nadu6669704536098080.43551490228369064.3Uttar Pradesh138556681183242585.449702145374883108.1West Bengal8948677531715059.43053390188376261.7India1109858777202295364.9428100052937345868.6Notes:(1)Transition rate in Kerala may include children repeating in upper primary sections.(2)Data for UP in 2003-04 is an aggregation of UP and Uttaranchal, 2000-01 data is for UP only.Discrepancy may be due to poor quality of data.Source:Selected education statistics, various years.
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