Projections of Student Enrolment and Flows

Arun C. Mehta, NIEPA, New Delhi


Both the mathematical and analytical techniques have been employed to project and predict future enrolment at the all India and state level. Linear and non-linear models are fitted to time-series data to obtain aggregate enrolment at the Primary and Upper primary levels of education. Whereas analytical techniques, namely, grade-ratio and grade-transition methods have been used to predict grade-wise enrolment. Due to limitations in enrolment statistics, in a majority of states, the two sets of projected enrolments are not comparable because of a number of reasons predominantly the year up to which data is used in a particular technique. The trend analysis is based on long time-series data of 1966-67 to 1992-93 whereas analytical methods are based on enrolment data of two consecutive years namely, 1989-90 and 1990-91, 1990-91 being the latest year for which grade-wise enrolment (official) was available. Hence, during the intermediary period i.e. 1991-92 to 1994-95, it is expected that situation in respect of intake (entry) rate and enrolment ratio might have already been improved but the same is not reflected in methods based on the analytical techniques. Not only data (grade-wise) used in the predictions are outdated but in a few states, such as, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and West Bengal, even 1989-90 grade-wise enrolment itself is not available which is minimum requirement, if methods based on the analytical techniques are to be employed. Hence, adjustments are made to get enrolment in year 1989-90 that in fact might have affected the quality of predictions. Similar is the case with number of repeaters, which are not reported in a number of states that may be due to adoption of no detention policy up to Grade V. It has been observed that predicted enrolment in the initial period compares well with the official estimates (provisional) and those based on the trend analysis but in the later years in a majority of states both the estimates are not at all comparable. In initial years, deviations computed between the two estimates are insignificant except in few states. Hence, unless the latest and reliable grade-wise enrolment and repeaters for at least two consecutive years i.e. 1993-94 and 1994-95 are available and used in predictions, the two set of estimates are bound to differ significantly. Therefore, in the light of these limitations in enrolment data, analytical techniques may not produce reliable estimates of future enrolment. Hence, trend analysis which is based on the latest data can safely be retained to know future course of enrolment (Grades I-V) and also to project likely year of achievement of goal of UPE/UEE.

Both enrolment projection and prediction exercises undertaken in the present study gives enough indication that goal of UPE in the country except in few states are not right in the sight and would continue to remain elusive in a majority of states, if the past trend in enrolment does not turn for better. However, results at the all India level indicate that goal of UPE is likely to be realised in the year 2004-05 in case of boys and 2007-08 in case of girls which is similar to the one obtained recently by Mehta (1993,2). But goal at the Upper primary level would continue to remain elusive even after 2008-09, the year up to which projections in the study are made. However, disaggregated projections at the state level are supposed to produce more reliable estimates of future enrolment than at the all India level.

The results at the state level reveal that Tamil Nadu is the only state in the country which might have already achieved the goal of UPE and it is further expected that all children in the age-group 11-13 years would have enrolled in the year 1994-95 in case of boys and 1997-98 in case of girls, which means goal of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) in state would have been realised in that year. However, if the concerted efforts are made, goal of UPE in a few states such as, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal can also be achieved by the turn of the present century. On the other hand, a large number of states are in a position to achieve the goal of UPE in case of boys within the stipulated dates. Thus, if the past trend continues, universal primary enrolment in case of boys is expected to be achieved in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal in the near future. However, except Tamil Nadu, Karnataka is the only other state in the country, which is also in a position to achieve the goal of UPE in case of girls sometime in the year 1998-99. None of the other states is in a position to universalise education of girls (age-group 6-10 years) before the year 2006-07. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and West Bengal are expected to enroll all girls of age-group 6-10 years sometime near the year 2008-09. Since, available estimates of overage and underage children are not applicable to Kerala, likely year of achievement of goal of UPE in the state has not been projected which is otherwise considered one of the most educationally advanced states of the country. The projections further reveal that compared to Primary level, the situation at the Upper primary level with particular reference to achievement of goal of UEE is grim and disappointing. As mentioned earlier, Tamil Nadu is the only state in the country which would be in a position to attain goal of UEE sometime in the year 1997-98. However, the goal at the Upper primary level in case of boys can also be achieved in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal sometime after the year 2008-09. But universalisation of girls' education in the age-group 11-13 years except in Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal is not expected to be realised even after the year 2008-09 and is likely to remain elusive for many many more years. Since projections are based on the assumption of 23.71 and 15.78 per cent estimate of overage and underage children respectively at the Primary and Upper primary levels of education, they are subject to change when more reliable state-specific estimates are available for which surveys at the local level needs to be conducted. In case of lower estimates than used in the present study, chances of early realisation of the goal is bright. The states that have already acquired the status of universal enrolment or are likely to acquire it in the near future, attention would have to be paid to achieve universalisation of quality Primary education that is at present at low ebb.

Thus, projection exercises undertaken in the present study indicate that not only rigorous efforts are needed to achieve the goal of UPE/UEE but also certainly target date itself in a number of states needs to be shifted to some other date(s). In the past, it was a practice to set targets of additional population needs to enroll during the plan periods only at the all India and state level. Of late, NPE and its Revised Policy Formulations (1992) and eighth plan envisaged disaggregated target setting at least at the district level which is also one of the major objectives of the DPEP launched recently in the country. It looks unrealistic that target date to achieve UPE in Kerala and those in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh is same i.e. year 2001 (target date is now revised to year 2005). Thus, not only disaggregated targets are needed but target dates should be fixed separately for boys, girls, scheduled caste and scheduled tribe children and rural and urban areas keeping in view the existing status of school education in different parts of the country. As mentioned, in a number of states, the goal of UPE is well within the reach but in the rest of the states, it is still a distant dream. Therefore, it would be better to identify educationally backward areas in states and then target dates are fixed which is similar to one adopted in the TLC programmes. Once a district/state attains the goal, it may be declared a total enrolled district/state. Otherwise, target dates would again require a shift to the later stage, if the past trend is any indication.

It has been observed that states which are not likely to attain the status of universal primary education in the near future; a number of projects sponsored by the donor agencies are either implemented or under process of implementation. The projection exercises revealed that the goal of UEE particularly in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal is not likely to be realised by the stipulated date. `Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project' with the main objective of enhancing the professional competence of teachers is currently going on and the DPEP project is under implementation in five districts each of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. The UNICEF assisted `Bihar Education Project' which was under implementation in seven districts of Bihar has now come under the DPEP along with ten new districts. DPEP is also under implementation in four districts of Haryana and twenty nine districts of Madhya Pradesh whereas World Bank sponsored `UP Basic Education Project' in Uttar Pradesh (now under DPEP) and SIDA assisted `Lok Jumbish' project in Rajasthan are also under implementation. In Orissa too, DPEP is under implementation in eight districts. However, coverage of the existing projects in terms of number of states and districts in a state is confined to a limited area and only a part of the total child population who are currently not enrolled is covered. Thus, unless the existing projects are spread to remaining districts or new projects are implemented in these areas, the impact in terms of enrolment coverage at the state level would not be significantly visible, unless all children of age-group 6- 14 years in a project district are enrolled. However, it was envisaged that DPEP would be expanded to 110 districts by the end of the Eighth Five-Year Plan (MHRD, 1994) compared to which the programme is currently under implementation in 148 districts of 14 states.

Thus, there is a clear indication that the current trend in enrolment is not likely to continue for long but would turn for better. A positive indication of these projects may be noticed only after a period of about eight to ten years from the date of its implementation. How far it would change the situation is an issue of interest for the educational planners and policy formulators. In a number of project states, for instance in Bihar, a positive atmosphere has been created in BEP districts through enrolment campaigns and drives, Mahila Samakhya programme of women empowerment, community participation through Village Education Committee (VEC) etc. But a large number of children still dropout from the system before reaching Grade II that severely affects the efficiency of the education system. Majorities of children of those who dropout from the system, again take admission in Grade I next year which inflates aggregate enrolment at the Primary level (BEP Appraisal Report, 1994). Also, NSSO 42nd Round survey on `Participation in Education' conducted in 1986-87 revealed that majority of children (boys 45 per cent and girls 50 per cent) dropped-out from the system for want of interest in education and further studies and due to repetitive failures. However, NSSO data is outdated but gives enough indication about childrens' reaction to curriculum, medium of instruction, infrastructural facilities, utilisation of teaching-learning material and policy of no detention up to Grade V. Childrens' attraction towards education is also reflected in entry rates which in most of the states are high but comparatively boys'/girls' differential in entry rate in some states, such as, Bihar (56.2 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (20.55 per cent), Rajasthan (75.93 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (41.02 per cent) is very high and significant which do not indicate that the goal of UPE, particularly of girls, can be achieved without improving the existing entry rates. Unless, existing infrastructural facilities available in schools are adequately utilised, provision of more facilities is not likely to make any significant change towards retaining more children in the system and achieving the goal of UEE in the country. Of course, the scheme of Operation Blackboard has been implemented in a large number of schools but quality, utilisation and timely supply of material is still an area of major concern. However, the recently conducted base line studies in 23 districts of six DPEP states established that OB has a significant impact on learning achievements. But even in a state like Kerala, instructional materials are not fully utilised which may be due to many reasons predominantly because of the teachers who are not trained to use it

In most of the states, it has been noticed that if the existing entry and transition rates are improved, the goal of UPE can still be realised by the turn of the present century. Achievement of high entry and transition rates in a short period of about six years from now in some states may be very difficult to attain, if not impossible which is more specifically true in case of girls. The details of entry rates required to obtain goal of UPE indicate that in a majority of states very high entry rates in addition to improved transition rates would be required (In fact, as we approach UEE, both the percentage of overage and underage children as well as enrolment ratio (gross) and entry rate will start decline). But the existing drop-out rates, particularly of Grade I, in a number of states need to be curtailed significantly which otherwise hamper the progress made through enrolment drives and campaigns. Community participation and teachers' commitment and motivation can play a significant role in arresting drop-out rates for which District Institute of Educational Training (DIET) needs to be strengthened without any further delay. Mention of Bihar and Rajasthan here is worth-while where as many as 34 and 33 per cent children of those who take admission in Grade I do not reach even Grade II. In Rajasthan, retention rate at the Primary level is as low as 24.76 per cent (boys) and 19.58 per cent (girls) which suggests that in the process about 75.24 per cent boys and 80.42 per cent girls drop-out from the system. The situation particularly in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and West Bengal with respect to retention rate is also not encouraging. In the past, attention was paid to only retention rates at the Primary and/or Upper primary levels of education but grade-to-grade drop- out rates were neglected. Even the DPEP guidelines are silent on entry and grade-to-grade drop-out rates and only reducing the overall primary drop-out rate for all students to less than 10 per cent is in the focus. Thus, greater attention is now required on those children who are already in the system for which management information system for monitoring of enrolment in Grade I at the grassroots level needs to be developed.

The grade-wise enrolment generated through analytical methods produced significant information on vital indicators, such as, new entrants, entry and transition rates. Thus, new entrants projected in the present study can be of immense use, if the planning exercises are based on it. However, there is a need to revise predictions periodically as and when latest data on population, enrolment and repeaters are available. The discrepancy between actual and projected enrolment, if noticed, may be due to a number of factors that should be incorporated at the time of each such revision. It would be better, if enrolment projection exercises are undertaken at least at the district level which in turn should be added together to obtain future enrolment at the state level.

Statewise Likely Year of Achievement of Goals of UPE/UEE
(Based on Trend Analysis)

Primary Level Upper Primary Level
Boys Girls Boys Girls

Andhra Pradesh 2004/05 ** ** *
Bihar * * * *
Gujarat 1995/96 2006/07 2004/05 *
Haryana ** ** ** *
Karnataka 1996/97 1998/99 *** **
Kerala+ - - 1999/2000 1999/2000
Madhya Pradesh 2002/03 ** * *
Maharashtra 2000/01 ** ** *
Orissa 2004/05 * ** *
Punjab *** 2008/09 * *
Rajasthan ** * *** *
Tamil Nadu++ Achieved Achieved 1994/95 1997/98
Uttar Pradesh 2007/08 * * *
West Bengal 2000/01 2007/08 2008/09 2007/08
All India@ 2004/05 2007/08 2007/08 *
* - Not in sight
** - Sometime after the year 2008-09
*** - Just after the year 2008-09
+ - Estimates of overage/underage not available
++- Tamil Nadu perhaps is the only state which according to both techniques might have already achieved goals of UPE.