Getting school education back on track

Getting school education back on track

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

The recently released Performance Grading Index (PGI), which evaluates the performance of states and Union Territories on the basis of the facilities and the state of education in schools, has not produced many surprises. States which have traditionally been at the forefront of school education have retained their position, but many others have improved their positions. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Chandigarh and the Andaman Nicobar Islands are on top of the index for the year 2019-20. Most other states have improved their ranks from the previous year, though some have made only small progress. The index has seven levels of performance, and Karnataka has moved up from Level 5 to Level 4. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have gone backward from their previous year’s positions. The index is based on 70 parameters relating to access, equity, governance processes, infrastructure and facilities, and learning outcomes. Some parameters are weighted. The data needed for the grading are self-reported by the states but are vetted by the Centre.

The index was introduced by the education department in 2019 with 2017-18 as the reference year to monitor the quality of school education across the country and to impart a sense of competition among the states. An analysis of the performance of the states shows that most of the weaknesses are related to governance and management. But states also have their own difficulties which are special to them, and so the performance on various parameters differs from state to state. While Karnataka has performed well in learning outcomes and on parameters relating to equity, infrastructure and access, it has not scored well on governance. The report has said the state government has not released funds to schools for various activities promptly and in time. Generally, as in the case of many other social indices, southern and western states did better than those in the north and the east.

The report has said that the index measures the shortfalls objectively and regularly and thus helps states to take effective action to address the shortcomings. The improvements are also graded. It is important that states take the report seriously and make improvements in areas where they lag. Considering the importance of school education and its poor state, the improvements made by the states are not enough. No state finds a place in the top grade of 951-1,000 points. It should be noted that the report is for the year before the pandemic struck and created havoc in the entire education system. The challenges that the states face in the field of education now are entirely different from those in the previous years. The methods to put the system back on the rails will also have to be different. 

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