Education index shows growing north-south chasm

The annual Education Development Index (EDI) for 2012-13 is out and like previous years the narrative has not changed. There is a civilizational difference between the south and the north as the Hindi heartland states continue to languish at the bottom of the heap.

The EDI is also an indicator that while the southern states are improving in leaps and bounds after the enactment of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and others despite their best efforts are proving to be no match. States were judged on four parameters: access, infrastructure, teachers and outcomes.

EDI, done by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration on the basis of mammoth District Information of School Education (DISE) data, has ranked Lakshadweep on top after evaluating its primary and upper primary education performance. Puducherry is ranked second, followed by Tamil Nadu, Sikkim and Karnataka.

Tamil Nadu's high ranking also exposes the flawed ranking system that the HRD ministry had adopted in ranking states on the basis of their performance in the midday meal scheme. The southern state was poorly ranked above 20 and touted as a laggard. The state government had protested. One of the parameter used in DISE ranking takes into account infrastructure as an important component like the availability of kitchen sheds.

Among the northern states, Punjab has recovered a lot of ground occupying the sixth position, a remarkable recovery from its 13th rank in 2011-12.

Among the southern states the biggest decline has been of Kerala, once among the best performers. It is now languishing at 14th position. In 2011-12 it was ranked seventh. What led to Kerala's overall poor ranking is the loss in primary education. In primary education, the state's rank went down to 20th from sixth in 2011-12.

While Delhi has also slipped from sixth to 11th in overall ranking, Maharashtra has shown consistency retaining its eighth position. As for the perpetual laggards, Bihar has recovered a bit. It is now ranked 30th from 33rd in 2011-12. UP's downward slide continues, from 32nd to 34th. Rajasthan is in the same league: 25th from 23rd position. West Bengal is yet to witness CM Mamata Banerjee's much promised winds of change in school education. The state has slipped to 31st rank from 29th in the previous EDI ranking. Madhya Pradesh, likely to give another term to Shivraj Singh Chauhan , is also among the worst performers, occupying 28th slot.
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