• Ethiopia and India have contributed significantly to the overall reduction in out-of-school numbers since 2006. In 2011, India had out-of-school population of 16.74 lakhs whereas in 2006 its out-of-school population was 61.84 lakhs. India is among the top 10 countries with the highest out-of-school populations.
• In India, despite increased resources for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, allocations are still not sufficiently reaching the states that are in need. In 2012/13, total expenditure per elementary pupil from both central and state funds was still much lower in states where education indicators were worse than in the states with some of the best education indicators. In one of India’s wealthier states, Kerala, education spending per pupil was about US$685. Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh it was US$542. By contrast, in West Bengal it was US$127 and in Bihar US$100.
• Increased financial allocations are still insufficient to translate into improved learning outcomes, suggesting that far more needs to be done. In Bihar, for example, where spending rose by 61% between 2010/11 and 2012/13 but remained low, only 48% of Standard 3 to 5 students could read a Standard 1 text in 2012 (Accountability Initiative, 2013).
• India has by far the largest population of illiterate adults, 287 million, amounting to 37% of the global total. Its literacy rate rose from 48% in 1991 to 63% in 2006, the latest year it has available data, but population growth cancelled the gains so there was no change in the number of illiterate adults.
• In India, the majority of tax revenue forgone is due to exemptions from custom and excise duties. The revenue lost to exemptions came to the equivalent of 5.7% of GDP in 2012/13. If 20% of this had been earmarked for education, the sector would have received an additional US$22.5 billion in 2013, increasing funding by almost 40% compared with the current education budget.
• India decreased its spending on education from 4.4% of GNP in 1999 to 3.3% in 2010, jeopardizing the huge progress it has made in getting more children into school, and its prospects for improving its poor quality of education. India, which faces huge challenges in improving the quality of its education, spent 10% of its government budget on education in 2011, a reduction from 13% in 1999.
Education and its advantages
• Women in India with at least secondary education were 30 percentage points more likely to have a say over their choice of spouse than their less educated peers. In India, reducing the gender literacy gap by 40% increased the probability of women standing for state assembly election by 16% and the share of votes that they received by 13%. Education helps overcome gender biases in political behaviour to deepen democracy.
• In 2012, 1.41 million children under 5 died in India. If all women had completed primary education, the under-5 mortality rate would have been 13% lower in India. If all women had completed secondary education, it would have been 61% lower in India.
• In northern India, analysis based on the Annual Health Survey and the census in 2011 showed that female literacy was strongly linked to child mortality, even after taking into account access to reproductive and child health services. An increase in the female literacy rate from 58%, the current average in the districts surveyed, to 100% would lead to a reduction in the under-5 mortality rate from 81 to 55 deaths per 1,000 live births (Kumar et al., 2012).
• In India, literate people with schooling up to lower secondary level were more than twice as likely as illiterate people to know that mosquitoes are the transmitters of malaria. They were also about 45% more likely to know that malaria can be prevented by draining stagnant water (Sharma et al., 2007).
• In rural India, mothers’ education has been shown to improve their mobility and their ability to make decisions on seeking care when a child is sick – and infant children of women with such increased autonomy are taller for their age (Shroff et al., 2011).
• Education contributes to other forms of political participation. In rural areas of the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in India, education was positively associated with campaigning, discussing electoral issues, attending rallies and establishing contacts with local government officials (Krishna, 2006). In the state of West Bengal in India, a survey of 85 villages showed that the higher the level of household education, the more likely people were to attend the biannual gram sabha, or village forum, and, especially, to ask questions at the meetings (Bardhan et al., 2009).
• In parts of India, animosity among ethnic and linguistic groups can spark violence, so there is an urgent need to increase tolerance through education. Those with secondary education were 19% less likely to express intolerance towards people speaking a different language than those with less than primary education.
• The education level of a woman’s spouse can have a key role in her fertility choices. In India, the likelihood that the fertility preferences of a woman with primary education were taken into account rose from 65% for those whose husbands had no education to at least 85% for those whose husbands had at least secondary education. Education helps prevent the abhorrent practice of infanticide in India, where strong preferences over the sex of the child have been linked to millions of killings of children. While 84% of women with no education would prefer to have a boy if they could only have one child, only 50% of women with at least secondary education would have such a preference.
• In India, the richest young women have already achieved universal literacy but based on current trends, the poorest are projected to only do so around 2080. In rural India, there are wide disparities between richer and poorer states, but even within richer states, the poorest girls perform at much lower levels.
• In the wealthier states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, most rural children reached grade 5 in 2012. However, only 44% of these children in the grade 5 age group in Maharashtra and 53% in Tamil Nadu could perform a two-digit subtraction. Among rich, rural children in these states, girls performed better than boys, with around two out of three girls able to do the calculations. Yet despite Maharashtra’s relative wealth, poor, rural girls there performed only slightly better than their counterparts in the poorer state of Madhya Pradesh.
• Widespread poverty in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh affects the chance of staying in school until grade 5. In Uttar Pradesh, 70% of poor children make it to grade 5 while almost all children from rich households are able to do so. Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, 85% of poor children reach grade 5, compared with 96% of rich children.
• Once in school, poor girls have a lower chance of learning the basics. No more than one in five poor girls in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are able to do basic mathematics. The huge disparities within India point to a failure to target support adequately towards those who need it most.
• Children who learn less are more likely to leave school early. In India, children who achieved lower scores in mathematics at age 12 were more than twice as likely to drop out by age 15 than those who performed better.
• Where gender-responsive curricula have been developed, as in projects in Mumbai, test scores measuring attitudes on several gender-related issues improved.
• Digital Study Hall is a small, innovative project that uses ICT to improve the accessibility and quality of education for disadvantaged children in India. An evaluation of four schools in Uttar Pradesh state in India found that, after eight months, 72% of pupils had improved test scores; of these, 44% had an increase greater than 150% and almost a third improved by more than 200%.
• A study in India evaluated computer-assisted mathematics programmes, implemented both as a stand-alone substitute for regular teaching in an in-school programme and as an after-school programme to reinforce teachers’ curriculum delivery. The results showed that the in-school programme, far from leading to improved scores, actually caused pupils to learn significantly less than they otherwise would have done. By contrast, using the after-school programme to supplement regular teaching brought increased learning gains, particularly for low achievers.
• In rural India, an after-school programme for children from low income families used mobile phone games to help them learn English. This resulted in significant learning gains in tests of the spelling of common English nouns, particularly for children in higher grades who had stronger foundation skills.
• In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, primary students learn at their own pace, using self-evaluation cards that can be administered alone or with the help of another child; teachers strategically pair more advanced learners with less advanced ones for certain exercises. Overall, children’s self-confidence has grown as a result of the approach, and learning achievement in the state is high.
• Small class sizes also enable teachers at private schools to interact more with their students. In Andhra Pradesh, India, 82% of teachers regularly corrected exercises given to children, compared with only 40% in government schools.
• In India, schools with trained female community volunteers helped increase the proportion of children able to do two-digit addition. While only 5% of pupils were able to carry out simple subtraction at the start of the study, 52% could by the end of the year, compared with 39% in other classes.
• In India, teacher unions have a major influence on state legislatures and governments. In Uttar Pradesh, this led to higher pay and security of tenure for civil service teachers, but also to neglect of teacher absenteeism and to low quality of teaching.
• In the Indian state of Bihar, government school teachers received training to use new learning materials adapted to the local context. Combine with other initiatives, including using village volunteers to provide children with support outside school hours, the programme increased achievement.
• In Rajasthan state, India, the School and Teacher Education Reform Programme, established in 2010, aims to move schooling away from rote learning and towards teaching based on understanding and grounded in the local context of the child. In an innovative move to build legitimacy and ownership among teacher educators, a group made up of faculty from state, private and NGO teacher training colleges and universities was established to help develop teacher education and school curricula and materials.
• In India, several states no longer recruit civil service teachers, and contract teachers now account for 16% of government primary school teachers. In 2007, contract teachers received 14% of the salary paid to regular teachers in West Bengal, 23% in Andhra Pradesh and 25% in Rajasthan.
• In India, most studies find that employing contract teachers does not lead to learning outcomes that are lower than those achieved by civil service teachers, showing that contract teachers can be at least as effective as civil service teachers. However, achievement remains undesirably low in India regardless of the type of teacher a student is taught by.
• Across India, absenteeism varied from 15% in Maharashtra and 17% in Gujarat – two richer states – to 38% in Bihar and 42% in Jharkhand, two of the poorest states. There is much evidence of the harm done to students’ learning because of teacher absenteeism. In India, for example, a 10% increase in teacher absence was associated with 1.8% lower student attendance.
• In India, only one head teacher in 3,000 government schools reported dismissing a teacher for repeated absence. By contrast, 35 private school head teachers, out of 600 surveyed, reported having dismissed teachers for this reason.
• In India, illness accounted for just 10% of absences. In India, official non-teaching duties accounted for only 4%. In India, teacher absenteeism was lower when teachers were born in the district where they worked, where the school had better infrastructure and where students’ parents were literate.
• Combining monitoring with incentives could be more beneficial than penalties for tackling absenteeism. In 2003–2006, in 120 NGO non-formal education centres in rural Rajasthan, photographs were taken of teachers and students every day at the beginning and end of class to monitor attendance and the length of the school day. Teachers’ pay depended on the number of days they taught at least eight students for at least six hours. Over the period of the programme, teacher absenteeism fell from 44% to 21%, showing that linking pay with attendance can be effective. However, it is less clear whether camera-based monitoring of attendance could be scaled up and extended beyond NGO education programmes.
• Greater involvement of parents and the community in school management had limited impact on teacher attendance in India and no impact on student achievement.
• In rural India, government school teachers have been found to spend 75% of their time at school teaching, compared with 90% for private school teachers (Kingdon and Banerji, 2009).
• Based on current trends, the Report projects that it will take until 2072 for all the poorest young women in developing countries to be literate.
• The Report calculates that the cost of 250 million children around the world not learning the basics translates into a loss of an estimated $129 billion. In total, 37 countries are losing at least half the amount they spend on primary education because children are not learning. By contrast, the Report shows that ensuring an equal, quality education for all can generate huge economic rewards, increasing a country’s gross domestic product per capita by 23 per cent over 40 years.
• Ten per cent of global spending on primary education is being lost on poor quality education that is failing to ensure that children learn.
• The report warns that without attracting and adequately training enough teachers the learning crisis will last for several generations and hit the disadvantaged hardest.
• In order to improve the quality of education, between 2011 and 2015, South and West Asia needs to recruit an additional 1 million additional teachers per year to reach a ratio of 32 pupils per teacher in lower secondary education. However, teachers also need training. In a third of countries analysed by the Report, less than three-quarters of existing primary school teachers are trained to national standards.
• The Report makes the following recommendations: 1. New education goals after 2015 must include an explicit commitment to equity so that every child has an equal chance of an education; 2. New goals after 2015 must ensure that every child is in school and learning the basics; 3. Ensure the best teachers reach the learners who need them most.