Data from the UDISE+ report for 2021-22 indicates that the number of teachers in private unaided schools decreased by 2.93% in 2021-22 after years of increase. Data also indicates that the dropout rates in 2021-22 were back to the pre-pandemic levels at the primary & upper-primary levels.
In this two-part series on UDISE+ latest report of 2021-22, the first part focussed on the school profiles and the corresponding enrolments over the past few years. In this second part, we look at the infrastructural aspects, and the school performance indicators.
Trends in school performance indicators
Dropout rate is the proportion of the students enrolled in a given level at a given school who are no longer enrolled at any grade in the following school year. It is an important indicator that is used to gauge the success of achieving access to universal school education by 2030. The less the dropout rate is, the better is the functioning of the school education system.
Data from 2015-16 show that the dropout rate for primary level averaged around 4.5% between 2015-16 to 2018-19. It fell to 1.5% during 2019-20, further falling to 0.8% in 2020-21. However, for 2021-22, the dropout rate increased to the 2019-20 level of 1.5%. Similarly, for upper-primary level, dropout averaged at 4.9% from 2015-16 to 2018-19. However, in 2019-20 it fell to 2.6%, and in 2020-21, it declined further to 1.9%. The data for 2021-22 stood at 3.0%, indicating almost similar level that of 2019-20.
For secondary education level, the trend is almost reverse. The dropout rate declined consistently from 19.9% in 2016-17 to 12.6% in 2021-22. The impact of COVID-19 is not felt at this level of education.
Repetition rate is defined as the proportion of students enrolled in a given level at a given school who are enrolled in the same grade level in the following year. A high rate of repetition indicates issues with the internal effectiveness of the educational system and may indicate a low quality of training. When patterns are compared across grades, they may reveal particular grades that repeat more frequently than others, necessitating a further investigation of the causes and potential solutions.
The data from UDISE indicates that for primary level, the repetition rate averaged around 0.6% from 2015-16 to 2019-20, declining to 0.1% in 2020-21. However, in 2021-22, it increased back to 0.5%. For upper primary level, the repetition rate averaged around 0.5% from 2015-16 to 2019-20, declining to 0.1% in 2020-21. However, in 2021-22, it increased back to 0.7%. For secondary level, the average repetition rate from 2015-16 to 2019-20 stood at 3%, which declined to 0.3% in 2020-21. However, in 2021-22, it rose back to 1.1%, still better than the pre-covid years.
This decline in 2020-21 could be due to the mandatory promotion of students across grades announced by the governments across the states. The aftermath of the withdrawal of such policies, if one goes by the figures of 2021-22, indicates a comeback to the pre-covid levels.
Retention Rate is defined as the proportion of students enrolled at the first-grade level of education who are expected to reach the last grade level of education. In a way, retention rate is an indicator for the duration of children in the education system, and obstacles in completing the formal education. As a thumb rule, the sum of Promotion Rate, Repetition Rate, and Dropout Rate should equal 100.
The yearly trend for primary, elementary, and secondary levels of education from 2017-18 indicate a positive growth in retention. Even in 2021-22, the retention rate is better than the 2020-21, indicating no significant effect of COVID-19.
Teacher decline in Private schools for the first time since 2014-15
The COVID-19 pandemic had varied effects on government and private schools. While many schools continued with online education, many schools were shut down or temporarily halted operations due to financial distress. As a result, people dependent on education system, particularly the teaching staff, lost their livelihoods.
At an all-India level, the teacher strength grew from 2014-15 to 2020-21. The average percentage growth from 2015-16 to 2019-20 stood at 2.5%, while for 2020-21, it was 0.09% only. In 2021-22, it declined to -1.95%, indicating a clear fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trend from 2017-18 indicates a decline in the number of government teachers over the years, though the quantum is relatively small. However, for private teachers, data from 2014-15 to 2020-21 indicate a positive growth in the strength of private teachers. Their strength reduced by almost 3% in 2021-22.
75% of the Government schools still do not have internet facility
The COVID-19 pandemic had caused disruptions in the education sector. These disruptions are majorly in the teaching and learning processes, the process of examinations and peer-learning. Online education was pushed as a major solution to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. However, the data from UDISE+ 2021-22 reveals that more than 65% of total schools in India, and more than 75% of Government schools do not have an internet facility. Though there is a progress in provision of internet facility in schools, this progress is not up to the mark. In contrast, around 40% of the private schools do not have internet facilities. For a country that has a significant digital divide, and when online education is playing a huge role, such low rate of internet availability is a concern.
Lack of facilities for Children with Special Needs (CWSN)
It is the responsibility of respective school managements to ensure that any existing vulnerability of the children not hinder their access to education. Any practice or hindrance that discourages children to attend school must be eliminated. However, the data at a national level with access to specific infrastructure points out to the casual neglect of the managements on the needs of children with special needs.
At an all-India level, only 25.7% of the schools have functional toilet facility for CWSNs, and all schools irrespective of management, perform equally bad on this aspect. While the percentage of schools with toilet facility at an all-India stands at 96.5% in 2021-22, the same for CWSN stands at 25.7%.
Similarly, more than 50% of the schools at an all-India level do not have ramps with handrails facility for children with special needs. While nearly 60% of government schools have such facilities, only 32% of the private schools have those facilities for CWSN.