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DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND AN ALBATROSS WITHOUT GOOD SCHOOL EDUCATION

 DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND AN ALBATROSS WITHOUT GOOD SCHOOL EDUCATION When pandemic and vaccination domi- nate our minds, the education minis- tr...

 DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND AN ALBATROSS WITHOUT GOOD SCHOOL EDUCATION




When pandemic and vaccination domi-

nate our minds, the education minis-

try’s Performance Grading Index 

comes as a welcome distraction. 

Some bits are not very surprising. 

Tamil Nadu and Kerala do better than most, 

and Bihar remains at the bottom of the pile, 

particularly in school infrastructure, along 

with tribal Chhattisgarh. But Meghalaya 

and Nagaland do not do well, while showing 

slight improvement. 

The real surprise is that Punjab does better 

than all, and is at the top of the pile—it has 

jumped up from a mere 769 to 929 on a score-

chart of 1,000. It even outshines its own capital, 

the Union territory of Chandigarh, which is 

still not just the most well-laid-out city in India 

but boasts reasonably modern infrastructure 

on most counts. But then, Chandigarh and 

Tamil Nadu have outdone Kerala, which is gen-

erally the country’s human index topper. Kar-

nataka, despite its ‘IT hub/start-up haven’ im-

age, languishes at Level 3, scoring no more than 

813. In fact, only five states and UTs have scored 

more than 90%, touching Level 2. Unfortunately, 

none in India qualify as Level 1 in school PGI, 

where the parameters are governance, infra-

structure/administration and learning out-

comes—restricting dropouts, enhancing enrol-

ment and mainstreaming students. Gujarat, 

which was the runner-up last time, has slid 

quite a few notches and is no longer in Level 2. 

Madhya Pradesh, similarly, drops down on the 

performance chart. The lowest score has been 

wangled by Ladakh, with just 545. Obviously, 

autonomy from J&K has not brought in the re-

sults yet. The third edition of the National As-

sessment of Schools tested school students from 

Classes III, V, VIII and X, on 70-odd indicators. 

Hopefully, the scores will come as a sobering 

wake-up call to the laggards. Without good 

school education and a healthy nutritional 

profile to go with it—and, needless to say, an 

economy robust enough to absorb them—In-

dia’s demographic dividend may just turn into 

an albatross

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