STATUS OF SECONDARY EDUCATION IN INDIA
ARUN C. MEHTA
National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration
17-B, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi -110016 (INDIA)
Ever since the Constitution was adopted in 1950, the focus of educational programmes was concentrated on elementary education. Since the constitutional commitment is free and compulsory education to all children up to the age fourteen, all efforts were focused on achieving the goal of universal elementary education. But despite significant progress in every sphere of elementary education, the goal to achieve universal elementary enrolment is still a far distant dream. Within the elementary education, primary education remained in the focus all through since the independence. Even, the coverage of District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) is also limited to the primary level only. However, it is the upper primary education, which is now getting attention of the planners and policy makers. The DPEP is now being extended to the upper primary level initially in the phase one 52 districts. Sporadic attempts have been made in the past to consider both the primary and upper primary education as one component. The Bihar Education Project and the World Bank Uttar Pradesh Basic Education Project considered the entire elementary education as one unit. The new initiative, namely the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) also envisages the entire elementary education as one component. Secondary education had never been in the focus and all the activities were concentrated on elementary education. The Government recently constituted a task force on secondary education. Even there is now mention of Universalisation of Secondary Education. It is in this context, the present article takes an overall view of the entire secondary level.
Like other levels of school education, a significant progress is made in all the spheres of secondary education. More than 84 per cent habitations had secondary school/section within a distance of 8 km as compared to 70 per cent within 5 km. The number of unserved habitations declined from 21 per cent in 1986-87 to 15 per cent in 1993-94. During 1950-51 to 1999-2000, the number of secondary and higher secondary schools increased from 7 thousand to 117 thousand. The increase (16 times) is much more rapid than the corresponding increase in the primary (3 times) and upper primary (14 times) schools. In the latest decade (1990 to 99), more than 37 thousand secondary and higher secondary schools were opened. The ratio of upper primary to secondary schools also improved from 1.83 in 1950-51 to 1.69 in 1999-2000. The number of secondary/higher secondary teachers increased from 127 thousand in 1950-51 to 1,720 thousand in 1999-2000. Despite the increase in number of teachers, the pupil-teacher ratio increased from 21:1 in 1950-51 to 32:1 in 1999-2000; thus indicating significant increase in enrolment at this level. From a low 1.5 million in 1950-51, it has now been increased by more than 19 times to 28.2 million in 1999-2000. The percentage of girl’s enrolment increased from 13 per cent in 1950-51 to about 38 per cent in 1999-2000. Enrolment in secondary/higher secondary level increased by almost doubles the rate than the increase in the primary enrolment. The GER, though low but improved from 19.3 per cent in 1990-91 to 30.0 per cent in 1993-94 and further to 41.2 per cent in 1998-99. Almost 50 per cent children of age group 14-17 year were attending schools in 1995-96. The retention rate (I to IX) is also improved but still it is low at 27 per cent. The transition rate from upper primary to secondary level is as high as 85 per cent.
Over time facilities in secondary schools have improved impressively. The majority of secondary schools have got school buildings (69 per cent). The average number of instructional rooms in a secondary school is as high as 8. More schools have now got drinking water (41 per cent), urinal (77 per cent) and lavatory (57 per cent) facilities in schools than in 1986-87. More than 63 per cent schools have furniture for teachers and almost the same percentage of schools science laboratories. The plan allocation on secondary education increased from Rs. 20 crore during the first plan to more than Rs. 2600 crore in the ninth plan. However, expenditure on secondary education always remained below one per cent of the GDP.
Impressive progress has also been made at the primary and upper primary levels of education. But despite all these significant achievements, the goal to achieve universal elementary enrolment still remains far out of the sight. The goal of universal secondary education cannot be achieved unless the goal of universal elementary enrolment is achieved.
THE PRESENT ARTICLE
To review quantitative expansion of secondary education, information on a variety of indicators over time needs to be analyzed. Availability of schooling facilities, unserved habitations, schools according to type & management, physical and teaching/learning facilities, average number of instructional rooms, ratio of upper primary to secondary schools, pupil-teacher ratio, average number of teachers in a school, trained & female teachers, subject specialization & qualifications of teachers, student enrolment, retention rate etc. are some of the important indicators that have been critically analyzed in the present article. The analysis will help to understand the status of secondary education vis-à-vis elementary education. Needless to mention that secondary education cannot be expanded unless the upper primary education system is efficient enough to send the adequate number of elementary graduates to the secondary level. Once the students complete elementary education, they are expected to transit to secondary classes in the subsequent years. Therefore, an attempt has been made in the present article to see how students transact between the secondary classes. For this purpose, transition rate from upper primary to secondary level and between secondary grades have also been computed and critically analyzed.
The analysis is confined to the all-India level. By and large the article is focused on the quantitative analysis but qualitative variables have also been analyzed. Though secondary level is in the focus of the article, wherever necessary, information pertaining to other lower levels, such as, upper primary and primary levels have also been presented and analyzed. The analysis presented is confined to the secondary sources of information. The MHRD is the main agency responsible for the collection and dissemination of educational statistics on a regular basis on all aspects of school education. However, compared to elementary level, secondary level does not have the rich data set. Therefore, other sources of information, such as, NCERT have also been explored. Since, the NCERT data set is latest (Sixth Survey) available for the year 1993-94, the analysis in the present article is also confined to that year only. The MHRD data is disseminated through two of its annual publications, namely, the Selected Educational Statistics and Education in India. Information disseminated through the Education in India is comprehensive and final while those published in the Selected Educational Statistics is provisional in the nature. Education in India is latest available for 1993-94 and Selected Educational Statistics for 1999-2000. Both of these publications have been extensively utilized in the present article. In addition, data generated by the NSSO have also been analyzed.
Provision of schooling facilities to all children is the constitutional commitment. Opening of a school is linked to the population size of the habitation and also the distance from the residence to school. A habitation is entitled to have a primary (population 300 & more), upper primary (500 & more) and secondary school, if it does not have the same within a walking distance of 1, 3 and 5 km. The distribution of habitations according to availability of secondary schools/sections reveals that 54 thousand of the total 1,061 thousand habitations had a secondary school/section within the habitation itself; which is just 5.04 per cent of the total habitations. (Table 1). About 69.73 per cent habitations had the schooling facilities with in a walking distance of 5 km. compared to 84.82 per cent within a distance of 8 km. In as many as 161 thousand habitations (15.18 per cent), schooling facilities were not available even beyond 8 km. However, if compared with the Fifth Survey, the number of unserved habitations declined from 21.08 per cent in 1986-87 to 15.18 per cent in 1993-94. This improvement is termed significant because of the increase in total number of habitations from 992 thousand in 1986-87 to 1,061 thousand in 1993-94. On the other hand more than 77 and 90 per cent population in the rural areas had access to secondary schools/sections within a distance of 5 and 8 km. The analysis further reveals that availability of secondary schools increases with the increase in population size of the habitation.
Below the growth in number of schools/sections is presented.
Facilities in Secondary Schools: 1993-94
Number of Habitations ('000)
Population of Habitations (in Million)
Up to 8 Km.
Within Habitation Up to 8 km
Up to 8 Km.
5000 & Above
Source: NCERT, 1998.
GROWTH IN NUMBER OF SCHOOLS
There has been substantial expansion of primary, upper primary and high and higher secondary schools in the country. Growth of upper primary schools is influenced by the expansion of primary education and high and higher secondary schools by the growth of upper primary education in India. The number of primary schools increased from 210 thousand in 1950-51 to 642 thousand in 1999-2000; thus showing an average annual growth of 2.37 per cent per annum (Table 2). During the same period, upper primary schools increased from 14 thousand to 198 thousand, a growth of 5.62 per cent per annum. On the other hand, high and higher secondary schools increased from 7 thousand in 1950-51 to 117 thousand in 1999-2000; thus showing a growth of 5.92 per cent per annum. The primary schools registered an increase of almost three-fold while the upper primary schools increased by 15 times and high and higher secondary schools by more than 16 times during the period 1950-51 to 1999-2000. Although the progress look impressive compared to the primary and upper primary schools, it needs to be noted that the base of the high and higher secondary schools was too narrow in 1950-51 compared to primary and upper primary level (Table 2). During 1990-91 to 1999-2000, about 81 thousand primary schools were opened against 47 thousand upper primary and 37 thousand high and higher secondary schools. A clearer picture about the availability of schools will emerge when the ratio of primary to upper primary and upper primary to high and higher secondary schools is analyzed, which is presented below. The ratio is treated an indicator of access conditions or the spread of facilities for upper primary and high and higher secondary education.
RATIO OF UPPER PRIMARY TO HIGH/HIGHER SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Table 42 reveals that the ratio of primary to upper primary schools has considerably improved from 1:15.4 in 1950-51 to 1:6.7 in 1960-61 and further to 3.2 in 1999-2000. Similarly, the ratio of upper primary to high and higher secondary schools has also improved from 1.83 in 1950-51 to 1.69 in 1999-2000. The improvement in ratio indicates that more schooling facilities are now available. The Programme of Action (1992) also envisaged an upper primary school for every two primary schools. However, it is silent on the ratio of upper primary to high and higher secondary schools. The trend shows that the expansion of primary and upper primary education has exerted considerable pressure on upper primary and high
Number of Institutions: 1950-51 to 1999-2000
Ratio of Primary to Upper Primary
High & Higher Secondary
Ratio of Upper Primary to High & Higher Secondary
Growth Rate: 1990-91 to 1999-2000
Source: MHRD, 2001.
and higher secondary education system to expand. The government has responded positively by providing larger number of schools and school places for children who are completing primary and upper primary level of education. As of now, the country has almost a high and higher secondary school for every two upper primary schools it has. The demand for the secondary schools is expected to increase once the goal of universal elementary education is achieved.
Next to number of schools, type, management and facilities in secondary schools is analyzed below.
The majority of secondary schools in 1993-94 were in the rural areas and most of these were co-educational schools. Of the total 66 thousand schools, rural areas had more than 47 thousand schools (71.21 per cent). Schools distributed according to management reveals that the majority of schools had either the government (37.46 per cent) or private management (51.25 per cent). Majority of private schools were aided schools (68.62 per cent). On the other hand, percentage of schools run by the local body and private unaided managements were only 11.29 and 16.08 per cent respectively. A close look at the distribution of schools according to enrolment reveals that the highest percentage of enrolment was in schools run by the private aided management (46.04 per cent) followed by the government (37.67 per cent), private unaided (8.72 per cent) and local body schools (7.57 per cent). It may however be noted that private schools had higher enrolment and the government schools lower enrolment than their share in the total number of secondary schools.
TYPE OF SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Across the country, a variety of secondary schools are available (Table 3). The majority of secondary schools in 1993-94 were integrated with the upper primary schools (33.99 per cent) followed by the independent secondary schools (23.79 per cent). On the other hand, about 17.37 per cent secondary schools were the integrated with either primary or upper primary schools. Only 5.44 per cent secondary schools in 1993-94 were integrated with the higher secondary schools. Upper primary integrated with secondary and higher secondary (13.95 per cent); and primary integrated with upper primary, secondary and higher secondary (5.46 per cent) were the other types of schools. Further, it has also been revealed that private managements (aided 29.12 and unaided 40.45 per cent) had the majority of independent secondary schools. More than 62 percent secondary schools under local body managements were integrated with the upper primary schools. Schools under private managements also had the highest percentage of integrated schools from primary to higher secondary level. Future expansion of secondary education should be viewed in the light of the existing arrangements of secondary schooling, as well as, the management type. With the limited set of data, it is not possible to know which arrangement is the most economic one. It may also be recalled that Secondary Education Commission (1952) recommended a national system of education covering 11 years of education and the Kothari Commission 10+2 pattern. The states have accepted 10+2 pattern but still the system is not uniform across the country.
Percentage of Secondary Schools/Sections According to Type and Management: 1993-94
Upper Primary and Secondary
Primary, Upper Primary and Secondary
Secondary and Higher Secondary
Upper Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary
Primary, Upper primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary
Total Number of Secondary Schools/Section
Source: NCERT, 1998.
FACILITIES IN SCHOOLS
Information on facilities in schools is latest available for 1993-94. However, the same concerning to secondary education has never been adequately analyzed. The same is briefly analyzed below.
Percentage of Secondary Schools According to Type of Buildings: 1993-94
Schools Having Buildings
* Others include partly pucca, kachcha and thatched huts.
Source: NCERT, 1998.
The distribution of schools according to buildings reveals that unlike the primary schools, the majority of secondary schools have got the school buildings. Only 0.51 per cent of the total 66 thousand schools were functioning either in the tents or in open space (Table 4). The majority of such schools were the government run schools. About 64 per cent schools in the rural areas had the pucca (permanent) buildings compared to 82 per cent in the urban areas. About 65 per cent government schools had pucca buildings compared to 26 per cent partially pucca and another 7 and 2 per cent schools were functioning in the thatched huts and tents. On the other hand about 72 per cent schools run under the local body managements had pucca school buildings. A little more than 70 per cent private aided and unaided schools had pucca buildings and not a single school under this category was functioning in the open space.
Further, it has also been noticed that about 74 per cent schools owned buildings and rest of the 26 per cent schools had either rented or they rent-free buildings (Table 5). Schools in the urban areas (63.71 per cent) had lower percentage of owned buildings than schools in the rural areas (78.63 per cent). On the other hand, it has been noticed that the majority of government and local body schools had their own buildings but the same is not true in case of the schools run by the private aided (59.49 per cent) and unaided (47.17 per cent) managements. Most of the private schools had rented buildings.
Percentage of Secondary Schools According to Ownership of
School Building: 1993-94
Requirement of Additional Classrooms
Source: NCERT, 1998.
It has also been noticed that the majority of secondary schools require additional classrooms, which is true for all types of school managements (Table 5). Comparatively, percentage of private schools that need additional classrooms is a bit lower than the requirement in case of the government and local body schools. Compared to the primary (2 rooms) and upper primary (5 rooms) level of education, the average number of instructional rooms were quite high (8 rooms) in secondary schools. Government run schools (2 rooms) had the lowest number of rooms than the rooms under other managements. On an average secondary schools under local body management had 2 instructional rooms. Schools under the private managements (aided 4 and unaided 5 rooms) had much higher number of rooms than the schools under the government and local body managements. Disparity in number of instructional rooms is also noticed in case of the rural (2 rooms) and urban (4 rooms) areas. Both within the rural and urban areas, schools under the private managements had much higher number of rooms than the other managements. A close look at the number of rooms distributed according to enrolment size reveals that higher is the size of school, higher is the number of instructional rooms. Schools having more than 600 enrolment had an average of 10 and 16 rooms respectively in the rural and urban areas.
Urinal & Lavatory Facilities
So far as the ancillary facilities in secondary schools are concerned, still a large number of schools did not have urinal and lavatory facilities (Table 6). This is also true in case of the separate urinal and lavatory facilities for girls. Comparatively, schools in the urban areas were more equipped with such facilities than schools in the rural areas. Only 71 and 47 per cent secondary schools in the rural areas had the urinal and lavatories facilities. It has also been observed that private aided and unaided schools are more equipped with these facilities than the government and local body schools. All the secondary schools even did not have drinking water facility in the school. In rural areas, such schools in 1993-94 were only 79.72 per cent. A good number of private schools too did not have drinking water facility in the school.
Separate Urinals for Girls
Source: NCERT, 1998.
Only 63.44 per cent secondary sections had furniture for teachers, urban areas had more such sections (81.36 per cent) than the sections in the rural areas (58.20 per cent). Similarly, private schools had got higher percentage of furniture for teachers than in the government and local body schools (Table 7). Almost 50 per cent schools did not have provision for contingency funds. More government schools had such provisions than the private schools. Only 80.24 per cent schools had playground facilities in schools. However, only 69.89 per cent of them found it adequate. More than 47.56 per cent secondary schools in 1993-94 had at least one physical teacher.
Shortage of Blackboard
Source: NCERT, 1998.
Only 94.44 per cent secondary schools had usable blackboards and 5.56 per cent had the shortage of blackboards (Table 7). Private schools had a bit higher percentage of usable blackboards than the government and local body schools. Further, it has been noticed that 11.21 per cent secondary schools even did not have mats/furniture and another 11.36 per cent schools found it inadequate. About 51.82 per cent secondary schools had got both almirahs and boxes/trunks compared to 40.39 and 2.39 per cent schools having almirahs and boxes.
The distribution of secondary schools according to availability of science laboratories reveals that as many as 40.65 per cent schools did not have laboratories, which in the absolute number come out to be 35 thousand schools. A little less than one-fifth (21.13 per cent) schools had separate laboratory for physics, chemistry and biology. While 42.98 per cent schools had combined laboratory for physics, chemistry and biology; another 4.13 per cent had combined laboratory for physics & chemistry and separate for biology. A large number of government (14,696), local body (4,885), private aided (11,205) and unaided (4,347) schools did not have science laboratory. Irrespective of the school management, guidance services in secondary schools were rarely available in 1993-94.
Only 79.03 and 85.04 per cent secondary schools had library facilities in 1993-94. About 70 per cent government and local body schools had library facilities compared to 80 per cent had the same in the private managed schools. Even the school has got library, it does not guarantee that it has also got a Librarian. Only 10.56 per cent schools in the rural areas and 19.32 per cent in the urban areas had a Librarian. However, a few schools have also got the part-time librarians (8.40 per cent). About 75.40 per cent secondary schools were subscribing newspapers and another 47.81 per cent magazines. Percentage of private schools subscribing newspapers and magazines were much higher than these facilities in the government and local body schools. More than 51 per cent secondary schools had the textbook banks.
Mid-day meal scheme was in existence in about 8.73 per cent secondary schools (Table 9). Similarly, about 16.77 per cent schools had incentive scheme of free uniforms and about 40 per cent schools free textbooks. More than 10 per cent secondary schools had the scheme of attendance of scholarship for girls.
% % of Secondary Schools According to Incentive Schemes: 1993-94
Incentive for Attendance
Source: NCERT, 1998.
Growth in Number of Teachers
During 1950-51 to 1999-2000, number of teachers at primary, upper primary and high/higher secondary level increased at an annual rate of growth of 2.20, 4.76 and 4.62 per cent. In absolute number, teachers increased by 4, 15 and 14 times respectively at the primary, upper primary and high/higher secondary level. There were more than 1,720 thousand secondary/higher secondary teachers in 1999-2000 (Table 9). Over time, pupil per teacher also increased to a significant effect. In 1950-51, pupil teacher ratio at the primary, upper primary and high/higher secondary level were 24:1, 20:1 and 21:1. This has now been increased to 43:1, 38:1 and 32:1 in 1999-2000.
Growth in Number of Teachers at the Secondary Level: 1950-51 to 1999-2000
Pupil Teacher Ratio
* Provisional thereafter.
Source: MHRD, 2001.
In 1993-94, rural and urban areas constitute 64 and 36 per cent of the total secondary school teachers. On an average a government school had 5 teachers compared to 13 and 11 teachers respectively in case of the private aided and unaided schools. More than 95 per cent teachers in 1993-94 were in the position against the sanctioned posts in the secondary schools. The percentages of SC, ST, OBC and female teachers were 6.46, 3.57, 22.46 and 34.68 per cent respectively. Private aided (35.84 per cent) and unaided (52.24 per cent) schools had much higher percentage of female teachers than in the government (29.74 per cent) and local body (24.40 per cent) run schools. Similarly, rural areas (23.09) had a much lower percentage of female teachers than in the urban (55.45 per cent) areas. However, in addition to regular teachers, a few voluntary, contractual and part time teachers were also in existence in schools both in the rural and urban areas spread over different managements.
Teachers Attrition & Stay Arrangements
At the beginning of 1993-94, a total of 814 thousand teachers were in the position in secondary schools (Table 10 & 11). However, about 25 thousand teachers left the profession because of the retirements, resignation, terminations, transferred and deaths. This gives an attrition rate of 3.07 per cent. It is general belief that if the teacher is staying in the village/town where the school is located, it improves functioning of school. The data suggests that a vast majority of secondary school teachers, especially in the rural areas (38.34 per cent) were not staying in a place where schools were located compared to which about 16 per cent teachers in the urban areas were not staying in the same town. So far as the provision of housing facilities to teachers are concerned, secondary school teachers were better placed than their counterparts in the primary and upper primary schools. A little more than 5 per cent of the total secondary schools in 1993-94 were provided with
Status of Secondary School Teachers (I) : 1993-94
% of Sanctioned Posts Filled In
% of Female Teachers
% of Schools Providing Housing Facility
Average Experience of Teachers (in Years)
% of Teachers Teaching Subject of PG
Source: NCERT, 1998.
the housing facilities. However, only 2.37 per cent of the total secondary teachers were benefited with the housing facility. Teachers under the private unaided managements had the higher percentage (6.53 per cent) of housing facilities than the private aided (5.31 per cent), government (5.75 per cent) and local body (1.82 per cent) schools.
Status of Secondary School Teachers (II): 1993-94
% of Teachers Staying Outside Village/Town
% of Trained Teachers
% of Teachers with PG & above
Source: NCERT, 1998.
About 91 per cent secondary school teachers were trained in 1993-94. A much lower percentage of SC, ST and OBC teachers were trained. In the rural areas (89.41 per cent), comparatively a lower percentage of secondary school teachers were trained than in the urban areas (93.39 per cent). The majority of secondary teachers both in the rural (69.32 per cent) and urban areas (61.06 per cent) were the graduates. However, more female teachers were graduates in the rural areas (73.12 per cent) than in the urban areas (60.64 per cent). A good number of teachers both in rural (29.45 per cent) and urban (38.00 per cent) areas were the postgraduates and above. Only, 11.62 per cent secondary stage teachers attended two or more in-service or refresher courses. On an average, a secondary stage teacher had experience of 14 years. However, teachers in the private unaided schools had experience of only 7 years. The average experience was highest in case of the local body schools (18 years).
Teachers Qualifications & Subject Specialization
Only 63 per cent secondary school teachers possessing postgraduate degrees were teaching subject of their post graduation. This otherwise means that about 37 per cent teachers were teaching a subject other than their postgraduate subject. Of the 286 thousand teachers teaching science at the secondary stage, 65 per cent were the science graduates and another 8 per cent had a post graduate degree in science. About 27 per cent of the total teachers teaching at the secondary stage studied only up to the higher secondary level. Similarly, 36 per cent teachers studied mathematics only up to the higher secondary level but they were teaching mathematics at the secondary stage.
FINANCING OF SECONDARY EDUCATION
The expenditure on education in general and secondary education in particular consistently increased during the period 1950-51 to 1997-98. The expenditure increased from a low Rs. 114 crore in 1950-51 to Rs. 42,027 crore in 1997-98; thus showing an increase of 17.84 per cent per annum. The expenditure on education by other departments, if included, comes out more than Rs. 52,465 crore in 1997-98. But much of the increase in the expenditure is eaten by the high inflation. Compared to 369-fold increase at current prices, the increase in constant prices during 1950-51 to 1997-98 was only 18 times. The per capita and per pupil cost (at constant prices) in 1997-98 were only Rs. 104 and Rs. 553 (Azad, 2001).
The percentage expenditure on education to GDP in 1997-98 was much lower (3.7 per cent) than the targeted GDP (6 per cent) recommended by the Kothari Commission (1964-66). The plan expenditure on education increased from Rs. 153 crore in the first plan to Rs. 24,909 crore in the ninth plan. But percentage of plan allocation on education during the same period declined from 7.86 to 2.90 percent. The plan allocation on secondary education increased from Rs. 20 crore during the first plan to Rs. 2,604 crore in the ninth plan. During the same period, the percentage to total allocation on secondary education declined from 13 to 10.5 percent. However, allocation to elementary education increased from 56 per cent in the first plan to 66 per cent during the ninth plan.
A close look at the percentage expenditure on secondary education to GNP reveals that the same remained below 1 per cent throughout the period 1974-75 to 1997-98. In the latest year, it was only 0.87 per cent. The percentage expenditure on elementary education to GNP was 1.47 per cent. The total expenditure on education to GNP during the same period however increased from 2.10 per cent in 1974-75 to 2.92 per cent in 1997-98. In 1989-90, government and local body schools together contributed more than 95 per cent of the total expenditure on education. During 1950-51 to 1989-90, allocation on account of fees and other private sources declined sharply from 32 per cent in 1950-51 to 6.6 per cent in 1989-90. In 1989-90, more than 79 per cent of the total expenditure on higher secondary education was incurred on salaries of teaching staff. Together with the salaries of non-teaching staff, it comes out to be about 92 per cent. A significant decline is also noticed in the budgetary allocation for education under both the state and union governments. While the state government budgets declined from 21.4 per cent in 1970-71 to 19.7 percent in 1997-98, central government budget estimates declined from 28 per cent in 1970-71 to 2.1 per cent in 1991-92 but increased to 3.4 per cent in 1997-98.
Average Annual Expenditure (Rs.) Per Student*
NSSO 52nd Round: 1995-96
*Other than public expenditure.
Source: NSSO, 1998.
Average Annual Expenditure by Items: Per Student
NSSO 52nd Round: 1995-96
Above Higher Secondary
Source: NSSO, 1998.
The NSSO 52nd Round data on average annual expenditure per student at secondary/higher secondary education in 1995-96 reveals that it was Rs. 1,577 (Table 12 & 13). A significant difference in unit cost is noticed in schools under different managements. It was highest in case of the private unaided (Rs. 3,061) managements followed by private aided (Rs.1,861), local body (Rs. 1,349) and government (Rs. 1,236) managements. A further break-up of annual expenditure per secondary/higher secondary student reveals that chunk of the amount was incurred on private coaching (Rs. 326). While a student in the government and local body school incurred (all levels) Rs. 84, students under private aided and unaided schools incurred an expenditure of Rs. 284 and Rs. 186 respectively. Further, it has been noticed that on an average a secondary/higher secondary student incurred an amount of Rs. 272 on account of books and another Rs. 248 on uniforms. The same on account of tuition fee and stationery was Rs. 197 and Rs. 190. Other major items of expenditure were the examination (Rs. 66) and transport (Rs. 98) fee.
The analysis presented above clearly indicates that secondary education has never been the priority area of investment. It was the elementary education, which has got the lion’s share all through the plan periods. The second area of concern is the expenditure incurred on salaries (92 per cent). Practically no money is left for the developmental work. Third, the share of secondary education in the ninth plan stands only at 10.5 per cent. In 1997-98, its percentage to GNP was well below the one per cent. Whatever meagre increase the secondary education has got was eroded by the inflation and in real terms the increase is somewhat illusory. The UEE by 2010 will generate rapid demand for secondary education to expand. In that case, it would demand a quantum jump in allocation than what is it receiving today.
GROWTH IN ENROLMENT
Enrolment during 1950-51 to 1999-2000 at different levels of school education is presented in Table 15. A perusal of table reveals that irrespective of the level of education, enrolment has shown consistent and significant increase throughout the period 1950-51 to 1999-2000. This is also true for the increase in girl’s enrolment, which increased at much faster rate than the increase in boy’s enrolment. Enrolment at the primary level increased from 19.2 million in 1950-51 to 97.4 million in 1990-91 and further to 113.6 million in 1999-2000. This shows that the same increased by more than six times in a period of about fifty years. The girl’s enrolment during the same period increased from 5.4 million in 1950-51 to 48.5 million in 1999-2000, thus showing an average annual growth rate of 4.63 per cent or 9.1 times in absolute terms. In percentage terms, the share of girls enrolment increased from 28.13 per cent in 1950-51 to 41.48 per cent in 1991 and further to 43.58 per cent in 1999-2000, the year for which the latest enrolment data is available. The share of girl’s enrolment at upper primary and high/higher secondary level increased from 16.13 to 40.38 per cent and 13.33 to 38.99 per cent during the same period. In the latest decade (1991 to 2000), enrolment at the primary level increased at an annul rate of 1.72 per cent compared to 2.40 and 4.43 per cent increase in the upper primary and high and higher secondary enrolment.
Like the increase in primary enrolment, upper primary enrolment is also increased but at much faster rate which is because of the low enrolment base in the initial year. Enrolment in upper primary classes increased from 3.1 million in 1950-51 to 34.0 million in 1990-91 and further to 42.1 million in 1999-2000. During the last decade, upper primary enrolment increased at the rate of 2.46 per cent per annum, which is slightly higher than the increase in the primary enrolment. During the same period, girls enrolment also increased significantly from a low 0.5 million in 1950-51 to 17.0 million in 1999-2000; thus showing an impressive 34 fold increase. The overall upper primary enrolment also increased by 14 times or at the rate of 5.47 per cent per annum. All together, the country had more than 156 million children in elementary classes in 1999-2000 compared to 28 million children in secondary and higher secondary classes.
Growth in Enrolment: 1950-51 to 1999
(Figures in Million)
Rate of Growth
Source: Selected Educational Statistics: 1999-2000, MHRD, 2001. The author calculated growth rates.
Compared to other levels, enrolment at the secondary & higher secondary level had a low enrolment base. In 1950-51, the total enrolment in these classes was only 1.5 million of which girls constituted 13.33 per cent or 0.2 million in the absolute terms. During 1991-2000, the same increased at the rate of 4.43 per cent per annum, which is more than double the increase in the upper primary enrolment. During the period 1950-51 to 1999-2000, girls and overall enrolment at the secondary & higher secondary level increased by more than 55 and 19 times This shows an average annual rate of growth of 8.82 and 6.17 per cent per annum which is higher than the growth in enrolment at other levels of the school education.
A perusal of Table 15 reveals that Gross Enrolment Ratio between the period 1950-51 to 1999-2000 improved significantly but the same is not adequate to attain the status of universal enrolment. As against the GER of 100.1 and 62.1 per cent in 1990 at the primary and upper primary level, the corresponding ratio in 1999-2000 was respectively 94.90 and 57.60 per cent. During the same period, boy/girl differential in GER at the primary and upper primary level also declined significantly. Compared to the primary and upper primary levels, the GER at high/higher secondary level is quite low. In 1990-91, it was only 19.3 per cent but improved to 30.0 per cent in the year 1993-94. For the latest year, the same is estimated to be about 41 per cent. The low GER is because of the low retention rates.
Gross Enrolment Ratio: 1950-51 to 1998-99
(Grades I-V, 6-11 Years)
(Grades VI-VIII, 11-14 Years)
(Grades IX-XII, 14-17 Years)
*Provisional thereafter, ** 1992-93, *** 1993-94
Source: Selected Educational Statistics: 1999-2000, MHRD, 2001 & Education in India: 1992-93 & 1993-94, MHRD, New Delhi.
The estimated NER at the primary level in 1997-98 was 71 per cent, which suggests that at least 29 per cent children of the age group 6-11 were out of the school. The boy/girl differential in NER was to the tune of 14 percentage points. The Net Attendance Ratio (6-10 years) suggests that it was only 66 per cent compared to 43 per cent among the children of age group 11-13 years (NSSO, 1998). The deviation between GER and Attendance Ratio suggests that fewer numbers of children attend schools than actually enrolled. The age-specific enrolment ratio was only 69 and 72 per cent respectively among the children of age groups 6-10 and 11-13 years. The NSSO data further indicates a Gross Attendance Ratio of 51 and 32 per cent respectively in the classes IX-X and XI-XII. Within these classes, a significant differential is noticed between boy/girl and rural/urban areas. So far as the Net Attendance Ratio is concerned, it was as low as 26 and 15 per cent respectively in classes IX-X and XI-XII. This suggests that majority of children of age groups 14-17 and 18-24 year in 1995-96 were not attending schools. The Age-specific Attendance Ratio was only 50 per cent; which suggests that 50 per cent population of age group 14-17 were not attending schools and those who were attending may not necessarily be in the secondary classes.
The analysis presented above reveals that at all levels of school education, a significant progress in enrolment is made but a large number of children still remain out-of-school (the estimated number in 1999-2000 was about 67 million of age group 6-14 years, see Mehta, 2002). Unless these children are brought under the education system, the goal of universal enrolment cannot be achieved.
It may however be noted that without attaining the status of universal primary enrolment, the goal of universal elementary education cannot be achieved. Primary enrolment depends on 6-11 years population but the same is not true in case of the upper primary enrolment. Upper primary enrolment is not a function of 11-14 year population but is a function of primary graduates. Only primary graduates can be admitted in the upper primary classes. It is quite possible that many children of age group 11-14 year are out of the system and there may also be dropped out children and a few of them may still be in the primary classes. A never enrolled or dropped out child of age 13 or 14 cannot be enrolled in upper primary classes for whom some sort of alternative system of education would have to be evolved. Without bringing these children under the formal or non-formal system of education, the goal of universal elementary enrolment cannot be cherished. Therefore, upper primary level of education cannot be expanded in isolation of the primary level. This is also true for secondary level, which cannot be expanded independent of upper primary level. All the children of age group 14-16 cannot be brought under the system in Classes IX-X unless the goal of universal elementary education is achieved. Many children of this age group may still be in the primary or upper primary classes or may even be out of school.
Thus, availability of graduates' (primary and upper primary) along with the transition from primary to upper primary and upper primary to secondary level would decide the future expansion of upper primary and secondary levels of education. So far as the demand for upper primary is concerned, it is more likely to be in educationally disadvantage areas where primary education has not been fully expanded. Further expansion of primary education in these areas and high transition from primary to upper primary level will generate more intensive demand for upper primary education to expand. Further improvement in transition may result into rapid demand for upper primary education in year that follows. Once the goal of universal elementary enrolment is realized, the secondary level may then expect to receive a quantum jump in enrolment. This may happen in the year 2010, if the goal of newly launched Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is realized in that year.
Transition Rates: 1970-71 to 1998-99
* : Provisional thereafter
Source: Computed by Varghese & Mehta (2001) based on Education in India
& Selected Educational Statistics, MHRD, Government of India, New Delhi, various years. Year 1997-98 onwards computed by the author.
As mentioned above, enrolment at the upper primary level depends upon the number of students completing primary level and transiting to upper primary levels of education. Similarly, enrolment in secondary classes depends on upper primary graduates. The inter‑stage transition rates i.e. transition from Grade V, the terminal grade of primary to Grade VI, the initial grade of upper primary education and transition from terminal grade of upper primary level i.e. Grade VIII to Grade IX, initial Grade of secondary level are presented in Table 16.
A close scrutiny of Table 16 reveals that transition from primary to upper primary level has been reasonably high to start with and improved consistently. The high transition rate is also evident from the increasing share of girl’s enrolment to total upper primary enrolment. The improvement in transition rate is also associated with a decline in gender differences. In the latest year 1999-99 (provisional), the transition rate is 95.59 per cent with boy/girl differential only 5 per cent. Like transition from primary to upper primary level, transition from upper primary to secondary level also remained high throughout the period 1970-71 to 1998-99. In the latest year 1998-99, it was as high as 83.15 per cent with negligible boy/girl differential. This is quite evident from the increasing share of girls enrolment to total enrolment at high and higher secondary level. The relatively high transition from primary to upper primary level and low gender differences suggest that unless primary education system is improved, the goal to attain universal elementary education cannot be realized. This is also true for enrolment at the secondary level of education, which cannot cover all the children of age group 14-16 years, unless the goal of universal elementary enrolment (covering all children of age group 11-14 years) is realized. Thus, efficiency of primary education system has direct impact on upper primary and secondary education system to expand. An inefficient primary education system will continue to send fewer primary graduates to upper primary level. Till then, Universalisation of primary graduates will be treated as achieving Universalisation of elementary education.
Grade-to-Grade Transition Rates between Secondary
& Higher Secondary Grades
IX to X
X to XI
XI to XII
Source: Calculated by author based on the MHRD data.
The transition between secondary and higher secondary grades (Table 17) reveals that majority of children promote from Grade IX to Grade X but the same is not true in case of promotion from Grade X to XI and Grade XI to XII. It has also been noticed that more girls transited from Grade IX to X and also from Grade X to XI. The promotion rate from Grade IX to X in 1998-99 was as high as 86.68 per cent (Boys 85.13 and Girls 89.13 per cent). However, only 44.29 per cent children transited from Grade X to XI; thus contributing a lot to wastage in the system. Compared to this, majority of children transited from Grade XI to XII (95.52 per cent). Here again, more girls transited from Grade XI to XII than their boys counterparts. The low transition from Grade X to XI has serious implications for Universalisation of senior secondary education, which cannot be achieved unless all these children transit from Grade X to Grade XI .
Since free and compulsory education to all children up to the age fourteen is the Constitutional commitment in India, all efforts in the past were focused on achieving the goal of universal elementary education. It is upper primary and secondary level of education that is now in the focus. Over time, secondary schooling facilities improved to a significant level but still there are a few areas of concern. Schooling facilities to a large number of habitations were not available (unserved habitations, 15.18 per cent) in 1993-94. In about 161 thousand habitations, the same was not available even within a distance of 8 km. About 24 per cent schools were independent secondary schools and 5 per cent were integrated with the primary, upper primary and higher secondary schools. Majority of secondary schools had got school buildings but only 65 per cent of them had pucca (permanent) buildings. Government schools had lower percentage of buildings than the schools under the private managements. Only 75 per cent schools owned buildings and 65 per cent needed additional instructional rooms. A large number of secondary schools did not have ancillary facilities like urinal, drinking water and lavatory in schools. A little more than 50 per cent secondary schools in 1993-94 did not have library. About 6 per cent schools had shortage of blackboard and another 11 per cent furniture for students. A large number of schools even did not have science laboratory; majority of which were the Government schools. Government schools also had lower average number of teachers than the schools under other managements. More than 95 per cent teachers in 1993-94 were in position against the sanctioned posts. Percentage of female teachers was much lower than their male counterparts and the difference was more pertinent in the rural areas. Majority of the secondary school teachers were not staying in the village/town where schools were located. Only 5 per cent teachers were provided with the housing facilities. About 91 per cent teachers in 1993-94 were trained. Majority of secondary school teachers were graduates and a good number of them were postgraduates. However, about 37 per cent of them were teaching a subject other than their postgraduate subject. A number of teachers teaching at secondary level themselves studied up to secondary level only. On an average, a secondary school teacher had an experience of 14 years but the same in case of the private aided schools was only 7 years.
Over a period of time number of secondary schools, teachers, enrolment, and investment on secondary education increased significantly. During 1950-51 to 1999-2000, high/higher secondary schools increased from 7 thousand to 117 thousand; thus showing a growth rate of 5.92 per cent per annum. During the same period enrolment and teachers increased at the rate of 6.17 and 4.62 per cent per annum. In the more recent decade (1991-2000); schools, teachers and enrolment increased at the rate of 4.33, 3.43 and 4.43 per cent. The ratio of high/higher secondary to upper primary schools in 1999-2000 was 1.69; thus indicating a high/higher secondary school for every two upper primary schools.
The share of girls enrolment at the high/higher secondary level increased from 13.33 per cent in 1950-51 to 38.99 per cent in 1999-2000; thus indicating that a large number of girls still out of the system. The rate of increase in girls' enrolment at the secondary level was higher than the increase at the other levels of education. The girls' enrolment increased at much faster rate than the increase in boys' enrolment, which is because of the low enrolment base in the initial period. The overall enrolment at high/higher secondary level increased from 1.5 million in 1950-51 to 28.2 million in 1999-2000. The gross enrolment ratio in 1998-99 remained low at 41 per cent. The net attendance ratio in 1995-96 (Grades IX-X) was only 26 per cent. The transition rate from upper primary to secondary level in 1998-99 was 83 per cent but ratio of Grade IX to I (eight years back) was low at 37 per cent. Only 27 children could reach Grade X in 1992-93 out of 100 in Grade I in 1983-84. This indicates that in process over 18 million children dropped out from the system; thus contributing a lot of wastage in the system. The pass percentage from Grade X to XI in 1992-93 was as low as 44 per cent. However, the transition rate between the Grade XI to XII was high at 96 per cent.
So far as the investment on education is considered, secondary education has never been the priority area of investment. However, plan expenditure on secondary education increased from Rs. 20 crore during the first plan to Rs. 2,604 crore in the ninth plan. The percentage to the total allocation on secondary education during the same period declined from 13 to 10.5 percent. The percentage expenditure on secondary education to GNP is below 1 per cent. More than 90 per cent of the total expenditure is being incurred on salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff. The average annual private expenditure per secondary/higher secondary student in 1995-96 was Rs. 1,577; chunk of which was incurred on private coaching (Rs. 326).
The goal of universal secondary enrolment cannot be achieved unless the goal of universal elementary education is achieved. Enrolment in secondary classes is a function of upper primary graduates. The demand for secondary schools is expected to increase once the goal of universal elementary education is achieved.
1. Azad, J. L. (2001): ‘Financing of Secondary Education’. Paper presented in National Conference: Focus Secondary Education, February 14-16, 2001, NIEPA, New Delhi
2. Mehta, Arun C. (2002): Education for All in India with focus on Elementary Education: Current Status, Recent Initiatives and future Prospects. NIEPA Occasional Papers, No. 30, New Delhi.
3. MHRD (2001): Selected Educational Statistics: 1999-2000. New Delhi: Government of India.
4. NCERT (1992): Fifth All India Educational Survey (Volume I and II). NCERT, New Delhi.
5. NCERT (1998): Sixth All India Educational Survey Statistics on Schooling Facilities. NCERT, New Delhi.
6. NSSO (1998): Attending an Educational Institutions in India: Its Level, Nature and Cost, 52nd Round: July 1995 – June 1996, Department of Statistics, Government of India, New Delhi.
7. Report of the Secondary Education Commission: 1952-53, Ministry of Education, Government of India, 1953, New Delhi.
8. Varghese, N. V. and Arun C. Mehta (2001): Investment Priorities and Cost Analysis: An Analysis of Upper Primary Education in India National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), New Delhi & Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi.