The recent Performance Grading Index (PGI) rankings, released by the Ministry of Education, which analyses the states’ education performance on seventy discrete parameters has featured five states and Union Territories (UTs), namely Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu on the top with scores ranging from 901 to 950 (Grade-II) out of 1000.
On the downswing side, one UT, namely Ladakh, is flaked in the lowest grade with scores ranging from 0 to 550 (grade-VII), preceded by Meghalaya (601-650: Grade-V), Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Nagaland (651-700: Grade-IV).
Overall, the PGI rankings of the eight Northeast states have emplaced Tripura at 20th rank, followed by Sikkim (24th rank), Manipur (25th rank), Assam (31st rank), Mizoram (32nd rank), Arunachal Pradesh (34th rank), Nagaland (35th) and Meghalaya (36th rank).
The states, namely Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh have performed outrageously worst in the PGI rankings, 2019-20. Notwithstanding, states including Tripura, Sikkim and Manipur have performed relatively better.
Among the Northeast states, Meghalaya ranked lowest, scoring 649 points out of 1000 whereas Tripura ranked top scoring 801 points, followed by Sikkim (772), Manipur (767), Assam (738), Mizoram (723), Arunachal Pradesh (698), and Nagaland (667).
The Indian school education system is placed amongst one of the world’s largest with over 15 lakh schools, almost 97 lakh teachers, and over 25 crore students.
To assist states in prioritizing areas for intervention in school education, in 2019, the Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL) has designed the Performance Grading Index (PGI).
The goal of the PGI is to stimulate transformative change in the field of school education across the country.
For assessing the states and UTs in school education, pertinent information has been drawn from several sources, viz. the National Achievement Survey (NAS) of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+), Mid-Day Meal (MDM) website, Public Financial Management System (PFMS), and the Shagun portal.
The total weightage under the Performance Grading Index is 1000 points with each of the 70 indicators receiving a highlight of either 10 or 20 points.
Notwithstanding, for ease of better understanding these 70 indicators have been classed into five major categories, i.e., Learning Outcomes and Quality (180), Access (80), Infrastructure and Facilities (150), Equity (230), and Governance and Management (360).
The top score in the domain relating to governance and management secured by Punjab (346), followed by Andaman and Nicobar Island (338), Tamil Nadu (336), Puducherry (335), Delhi (324), Kerala (322), Gujarat (320), Rajasthan (307), Chandigarh (305), Haryana (305), Odisha (304), etc.
On the flip side, the states/UTs, i.e., Ladakh (76), Chhattisgarh (169), Nagaland (174), Meghalaya (197), Mizoram (203), Assam (207), Madhya Pradesh (214), and Uttarakhand were among the worst performers.
Further, in the infrastructure and facilities domain, the states that recorded the lowest scores are Bihar (81), Meghalaya (87), preceded by Karnataka (97), Tripura (99), Uttarakhand (100), Nagaland (101), Rajasthan (101), Arunachal Pradesh (108), Odisha (109), and Manipur (109).
Looking on the bright side, the state of Punjab has topped in the domain with 150 points, followed by Delhi (149), Chandigarh (147), Tamil Nadu (142), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (147), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (140), Goa (137), Daman and Diu (135), and Puducherry (134), etc.
In respect of the learning outcomes and quality (average scores in mathematics, sciences, language, & social sciences), the state of Rajasthan has topped with the score of 168 points, followed by Chandigarh (160), Karnataka (160), Jharkhand (156), Kerala (154), Andhra Pradesh (154), and Gujarat (152).
On the drop-off side, Arunachal Pradesh has secured the least points (100), preceded by Ladakh (114), Sikkim (116), Lakshadweep (122), Puducherry (124), Delhi (124), Nagaland (126), and Meghalaya (126), etc.
In access parameter (i.e., enrolment ratio, transition ratio, & retention rate), the states, including Kerala (79), Punjab (79), Chandigarh (77), Himachal Pradesh (77), Tamil Nadu (77), Delhi (77), and Puducherry (77) have grasped top graded points, whereas Ladakh (49), Nagaland (53), Meghalaya (53), Jammu and Kashmir (55), Arunachal Pradesh (56), Mizoram (59), Manipur (62), Bihar (62), Assam (62), and Sikkim (63) have been featured amongst the least scorers.
As regards of the equity domain, the states, namely Punjab (228), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (226), Daman and Diu (226), Maharashtra (224), Delhi (224), and Chandigarh (223) have been spotted amongst the top gradings, while the states, i.e., Meghalaya (186), Ladakh (196), Andhra Pradesh (204), Lakshadweep (205), and Manipur (206) are emplaced among the lowest scorers in the PGI report card.
Henceforth, as measures, it can be said that the states, i.e., Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh with lower scores pertaining to infrastructure and facilities must direct their focus on school buildings with adequate facilities in order to improve the quality of education.
The availability of ICT facilities and timely availability of textbooks and uniforms must be ensured for better performance outcomes of students.
In case of learning outcomes, it is evidenced that the scores obtained in the higher standards are less than those in the lower standards. Further, many students are not achieving minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics.
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER, 2018) also revealed that 72 percent of the students from class V and 56 percent from class VIII cannot solve simple mathematical problems.
Hence, it is imperative to least performing states, namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, and Meghalaya to ensure better interventions at the lower levels as it has positive upswing effects at the higher levels.
Again, it is revealed in the U-DISE report (2016-17) that over 18% of teachers at government schools do not have any professional training in delivering and designing structural pedagogies for effective classroom transactions.
So, several competency-based robust in-service teachers’ training and school principals’ leadership development programmes must be organized to elevate teaching-learning ecosystems at schools.
Further, the lacks of supervision and inspection, timely availability of finance, and inadequate training of the teachers are some of the factors plaguing the school education systems in worst-performing states.
So, the governments must take the PGI report as an eye-opener and needs to make more investment for its overall development, hailed by Lahkmen Rymbui, Education Minister, Meghalaya.
Also, it becomes imperative to the governments that they must undertake immediate stimulus micro-economic packages as an intervention to help government schools especially those located in rural remote areas, suffering from a shortage of required digital as well as non-digital resources.
An inter-school library management system must be initiated to transfer learning materials among schools at distant locations at the district or state levels.
To optimize the learning outcomes, the northeastern states must be propelled towards undertaking several multi-pronged interventions.
An investigation must be done to pinpoint the learning deficiencies and accordingly need to prioritize areas for interventions to ensure quality education, bracketed in the PGI report.
A community-based education management system is also a pressing need to establish for minimizing the knowledge gaps and monitoring students’ inspiration as well as learning outcomes both at home and in schools.
(The author, Nawaz Sarif is a Senior Research Fellow and a former member of the Academic Council (AC) at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)