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Niti Aayog’s Education Quality Index Silent on Answering Who is Marginalised, Sparks Debate

The experts who prepared the report chose not to mention whether general category students have outscored Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribe, OBC students or vice versa.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:October 5, 2019, 10:13 PM IST
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Niti Aayog’s Education Quality Index Silent on Answering Who is Marginalised, Sparks Debate
Image for representation. (Reuters)

New Delhi: The government policy think tank Niti Aayog chose not to answer which social category is marginalised and the degree of this marginalisation in its report on the School Education Quality Index.

The experts who prepared the report chose not to mention whether general category students have outscored Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribe, OBC students or vice versa.

The report, released by Niti Aayog recently, captured the difference in learning outcomes between each category by assigning them scores. The greater the difference in performance, the lesser the score was given to a category.

But the report does not specify the direction of the difference, that is in respect to which category is marginalisation greater.

Social justice expert PS Krishnan said the absolute value is good, but not good enough. In his opinion, by showing ‘neutrality’ in discussing the direction of the difference between various groups like SC, ST, Other Backward Category (OBC), men, women, rural, urban, the report is depriving policy makers the opportunity to identify gaps and write corrective measures afresh.

“It is important to know whether the historically marginalized communities are progressing, and are in line with the best,” he said.

Krishnan further told News18.com, “The direction of difference should be brought out for every caste, class, gender, and region - whether rural or urban - to find the gap and come up with the corrective measures. Neutrality is important if there is no inequality. But we know, this is not the case, there are inequalities in our country. We must know how the one is faring and if the gap is reducing or widening. It is not to blame anybody but to be pursued in national interest.”

Speaking on the neutrality, Niti Ayog adviser Alok Kumar explained why this approach was followed. “We take the absolute value of the difference but no direction in difference. So even if SC/ST students are doing better than others that is not an equitable outcome. The idea is to make all students equal even on average. There should be no discrimination on the basis on whether SC/ST/General as everybody should be equal among their learning levels, maybe unsatisfactory, but at least it is equitably distributed.”

“All communities irrespective of their backgrounds should have learning outcome at the same level,” said the researcher on the SEQI project.

This is the first time that the government think tank came up with the report SEQI which was prepared in collaboration with Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD), the World Bank and sector experts.

The index consists of 30 critical indicators that assess the delivery of quality education. These indicators were categorized under two heads – ‘outcomes’ covering ‘learning outcomes’ ‘access outcomes’; ‘infrastructure and facilities for outcomes’; ‘equity outcomes’ and second category being ‘governance processes aiding outcomes.’

In the ‘equity outcomes’ indicator, ‘equity does not only signify equity in input-related indicators, like provision of entitlements, but is more so reflective of equity in learning outcomes, i.e., the difference in the learning outcomes of children from vulnerable sections and those of General Category students.

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