GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

How efficient is Indian education?



  • There is a need to develop a system where efficiency of our education system can be measured.


  • With Right to Education (RTE) Act and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the goal of ensuring universal primary education has been  aggressively pursued, and a significant quantitative impact in terms of the enrolment ratio has been seen.  However, an assessment of the actual learning levels reveals the flip side of the coin.The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014 indicates learning levels of students are still a huge concern.

Need to measure efficiency

  • It is important for state administrations to realize that improving infrastructure and resources should be accompanied by commensurate learning levels of students.
  • Thus, the need for a measure of efficiency emerges in order to assess education systems in their ability to convert educational inputs to outputs.
  • This can help provide an objective way for states to get feedback on their education delivery process and do away with the practice of judging the performance of states based solely on their inputs, or outputs.
  • There is a need to develop a methodology to measure the relative efficiency of the education delivery process and provide insights on what states can learn from peer-to-peer exchanges.

Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA)

  • It has been used extensively in several investigations and researches across countries and sectors for efficiency analyses.
  • It compares each entity (states in this case) with its peers in the set, and assigns a relative efficiency to it.
  • The first step in efficiency measurement using DEA is to identify relevant inputs and outputs for the educational process.
  • The learning outcomes reported by ASER are used as outputs, namely reading levels in local language, basic arithmetic ability and learning levels in English.
  • Similarly, the resources and infrastructure provided by state authorities to facilitate education are the quantifiable inputs.

Applying it to RTE

  • The RTE lays down certain minimum requirements, and the percentage of schools adhering to those norms serve as input values in this method.
  • The seven factors, as mandated by RTE, considered in this analysis are pupil-teacher ratio, classroom-teacher ratio, availability of drinking water, availability of usable toilets, availability of buildings and playgrounds, availability of library with books and mid-day meals being served.
  • Two additional inputs to represent the socioeconomic background of students as well as the local village infrastructure are also used.


  • A careful inclusion of inputs as well as outputs is needed in assessment of the status quo, and data-driven insights need to be drawn to identify the right focus areas for improvement.
  • DEA fulfils all such requirements, and can aid in the policymaking process in other sectors too.
  • A sound elementary education system is essential for our country to tap the potential of its vast human resource, and the importance of data-driven policy in this context can never be overemphasized.

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