Tamil Nadu Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan has told the Assembly that the data released by the Centre on the dropout rate in classes 9 and 10 was incorrect. Responding to a question, he rejected the Centre’s claim that the number of dropouts had doubled in three years from 2015-16 to 2017-18, and said data available with the state government shows a lower dropout rate of 3.7 per cent for this period.
Terming the data submitted by Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal in Parliament last week as “wrong”, Sengottaiyan Monday said the state had written to the Centre to find out the basis on which the minister gave such figures.
“There is no reply from the Centre till now,” he said.
According to the Union minister, Tamil Nadu recorded a 16.2 per cent dropout rate in classes 9 and 10 in 2017-18 as compared to 8 per cent in 2015-16, citing the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE). According to data, the state secondary level dropout rate was 8.1 per cent in 2015-16 and 10 per cent in 2016-17.
According to the Centre’s data, states such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka had managed to bring down their school dropout rate at the secondary level.
A senior education department official said they had already challenged the Centre’s data in their official communication. “It is just like how Niti Aayog’s ‘Healthy States Progressive India Report (2017-18)’ gave a poor ranking for Tamil Nadu based on data they collected and analysed using ambiguous methods.”
In July 2019, the National Health Index had ranked Tamil Nadu ninth in the country despite remarkable performance in quality and affordable healthcare over the years.
“Tamil Nadu’s data collection method in school education system is one of the best in the country ever since an efficient software was brought in after 2011 with a unique number for each and every student in our schools. This contains essential information, including name, age, school and community details of each student. This database is updated whenever a student is transferred from one school to another or disappears from regular list. More importantly, this covers not only government and government-aided schools but private schools in the state as well. When we have these stringent data collection methods, Centre’s methods are more relaxed, diluted, random and loosely defined as several states lack such data systems. This is the reason why our performance and best models fail to get recognition,” the official said.
Educationist Prince Gajendrababu said that the state government’s reply is not acceptable. “They should publicise the letter they wrote to the Centre. Did they assert the authenticity of state data, its source and questioned the grounds on which the Centre disputes it? It is fishy on either side as it is the state that supplies data to Centre,” he said.
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