Infra Misery in Primary Schools

DISE report figure out poor performance of Madhya Pradesh on Primary Education Index. In Madhya Pradesh, retention rate at the primary level education decreased from 94.3 in 2007-08 to 75.14 in 2008-09. Infrastructure ranking of Madhya Pradesh for primary education slipped from 15th to 19th in 2008-09. No change in its access ranking for primary {13 positions}. The availability of teachers at the primary level of education is below average with index scoring just 0.438 {32 rank} while it is 0.975 for Kerela {2nd rank}. 17.44 percentages of primary schools in the state are still having single teacher schools.

We have Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan; a flagship programme of Government of India is the largest ongoing Education for All (EFA) programme in the world -for the promotion of Universalisation of Elementary Education. However, Madhya Pradesh still portraits collapsing picture in the Educational Development Index [EDI] on the performance and indicators at primary level education as articulated in the latest flash Statistics of District Information System for Education [DISE] report 2008-09 released by NUEPA. The DISE survey of 2008-09 in Madhya Pradesh includes 109757 government schools & 22592 private schools in all the 50 district of Madhya Pradesh.

The EDI, which has four variables - access, infrastructure, teachers and outcomes. Madhya Pradesh slumps in three among these four variables pertaining to primary education. Easy access of schools ensures more and more enrollment and retention of students in the schools. Under the access indicators, namely, percentage of un-served habitation, availability of schools per thousand child populations and ratio of primary schools to upper primary schools/sections has been used. In 2008-09, the ratio of Primary to Upper Primary schools/section had been lowered by only by 0.14 from 2.62 to 2.48 which indicates low availability of upper primary schools in comparison to primary section.

Another vital access indicator is the availability of schools per 1000 child population which is static for last three years with the availability of only 13 schools/sections per thousand child populations. If we have to follow the student classroom ratio (SCR) equivalent to 40, their school be minimum 25 schools/sections for per 1000 child population.

At a time when the government is trying to increase enrollment in schools, especially for girls, EDI has brought to fore the lack of basic infrastructure with enormous downfall in all India ranking of Madhya Pradesh from 15th in 2007-08 to 19th in 2008-09. It means still quite large number of schools are running in lack of basic infrastructure and facilities. An infrastructure indicator includes average student classroom ratio, drinking water facility, common toilets, girl’s toilet facility in schools, percentage of schools having computers etc.

In Madhya Pradesh 26.67% primary schools are having SCR greater than 40 whereas Kerala which holds 3rd position in composite EDI is having average SCR of 7.85 percent only. Another distressing feature which hampers retention of girls in the school is the absence of separate toilets for girls in schools. There is girl’s toilet only in 47.60 percentages of schools that decreases further to 41.30% in case of primary schools in the State.

Education in Madhya Pradesh schools is limited to text books and many of the youngsters who study here, have never even tried their hands on a Computer unlike the students in metro cities like Delhi who have grownup with computers, gadgets, and gizmos surrounding them. The average percentages of schools having computers have decreased to 10.38 in 2008-09 from 12.36 in 2007-08 while it is 85.84% for Delhi and 80% for kerela.

Infrastructural misery of Madhya Pradesh is also depicted in the level of electricity connection in schools which demonstrate that only 10.74 percent primary and overall 20.56% schools are having electricity connections. Still there are large number of schools that are located in interior areas and are devoid of electricity.

Other important indicator is the ratio of teachers in the schools. In 2008-09, lack of teachers contributed further to dwindle the supply of quality education to students. The EDI rank on teacher’s index slipped down from 30th position to 32nd position. 17.44 percentages of primary schools in the state are still single teacher schools. And there is only one percent downfall in the percentage of all schools having Pupil Teacher Ratio >60 i.e. from 17.53 in 2007-08 to 16.55 in 2008-09.

The last set of indicators is related to outcome indicators amongst which gross enrolment ratio (overall, SC & ST) is the most important one. Average drop-out and repetition rates are other important outcome indicators. The Madhya Pradesh shows modest improvement in outcomes with EDI rank stepping forward to 30th from 35th.

Though the Madhya Pradesh government has taken strides in enrolling children in schools but there have been blithe efforts in providing quality education to them thus leading to their retention in schools. Retention Rate at primary level is not very encouraging in Madhya Pradesh as it has decreased from 94.30 in 2007-08 to 75.14 during last year.

The state's commitment in providing quality education to all its children is clear from its mediocre performance delivery with no change in composite EDI rank at Upper Primary level (26th rank) and even combined position at primary & upper primary EDI escalation of one point from 26th rank to 25th position.

Thus it seems the State is striving more and more for expanding higher education in Madhya Pradesh, however, the very foundation of higher learning, the primary education is still one of the major challenges for the government. The state still demonstrates slow pace in terms of performance on four basic variables used in computing Educational Development Index {EDI} at the primary level. Until and unless, the easy access, basic infrastructure & availability of quality teachers in not pledged at the primary level, the goal of universalization of education would remain a distant dream.

Seema Jain

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