India an 'under-performer' in secondary education, says World Bank report

WB to provide $ 500 mn to the government as soft loan for a revamp

“Secondary education hasn't received the attention it deserves, when compared with elementary and higher secondary levels (in India),” Sam Carlson, Lead Education Specialist, World Bank told reporters here.

Releasing a report titled “Secondary Education in India: Universalising Opportunity,” Carlson said the Indian government must dramatically improve access, equity and quality.
The bank has agreed in principle to provide  $ 500 million which the government has asked as soft loan to fund the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA).

 The report noted 40 per cent gap in secondary enrolment rates between students from the highest and lowest expenditure quintiles. While there is 20 per cent difference in enrolment for secondary education in urban and rural areas, a persistent gap of 10 per cent exists between boys and girls.

“Secondary enrolment by state also varies greatly from 22 per cent in Bihar to 92 per cent in Kerala and from 4 per cent in Jharkhand to 44 per cent in Tamil Nadu.
“In states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the  enrolment of general population is 80 per cent higher than for SC/ST and Muslims,” the report said.

The World Bank states that the 40 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) India boasts is inferior to its competitors in the Far East (70 per cent) and Latin America (80 per cent).
Even countries with  lower per capita income such as Vietnam and Bangladesh are ranked above India in terms of their GERs, the report points out.  India has “a lot of catching up to do.”

Uneven distribution of school infrastructure, lack of trained teachers, inefficient teacher deployment, sub-optimal use of private sector in expanding enrolment capacity and insufficient schooling opportunities are hurting India’s progress, the report states.
It also mentions that 27 per cent of India’s districts have less than one secondary school for every 1,000 youth in the age group of 15-19.

Low completion rate at elementary education places a limit on students ready to enroll in secondary schools. “Currently fewer than 60 per cent children complete grade VIII,” the report said.

The fact that secondary education costs almost twice the average direct cost of the elementary level is no persuasion for poor families to enroll children in secondary school, it noted.

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