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TN excels in enrolment for higher education

Tamil Nadu is overperforming in terms of both primary and secondary education, achieving almost 100 per cent Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) in primary education. One noteworthy feature is the dropout rate was a mere 0.8 per cent in primary and 1.35 per cent in upper primary education.

The school education system in Tamil Nadu has undergone a major improvement with the recent introduction of a new curriculum. The features of this curriculum are comparable and superior to NCERT. Learning outcome measures, QR codes and ICT corners form the unique features of the textbooks. The learning outcome prescribed for every subject and class is a boon to the students, teachers and parents. This assesses the progress in learning. All subjects have a teacher’s manual, helping teachers in preparing for teaching.

The textbooks can be freely downloaded from the SCERT website. All the fundamentals of a subject are clearly and attractively presented. Students following the textbook will not need any coaching for competitive examinations. The issue needing attention, however, is to motivate and train the teachers to devote time to capture the spirit of the textbooks.

Government of Tamil Nadu has made a handsome budgetary provision of Rs 28,957.62 crore for 2019-20 for the School Education Department. Tamil Nadu is overperforming both in terms of primary and secondary education. It is one of the few Indian states to achieve almost 100 per cent Net Enrolment Ratio in primary education. Further, the state has been overperforming with regard to other indicators such as enrolment ratio of disabled children, gender parity indices, literacy rate of youth, the proportion of schools with access to electricity, basic drinking water and basic sanitation facilities. One noteworthy feature is the low dropout rate, 0.8 per cent in primary and 1.35 per cent in upper primary.

Quality Index

NITI Aayog has developed School Education Quality Index (SEQI) based on the following:

Category 1: Outcomes: Domain 1: Learning Outcomes; Domain 2: Access Outcomes; Domain 3: Infrastructure & Facilities for Outcomes and Domain 4: Equity Outcomes Category 2: Governance processes aiding outcomes
Schooling should result in tangible learning outcomes. Hence SEQI assigns almost half its weight to learning outcomes. This sends a strong signal across the nation to ensure the focus remains centered on learning. SEQI focuses on indicators that drive improvements in the quality of education rather than on inputs or specific processes. The index thus seeks to institutionalise a focus on improving education outcomes with respect to learning, access, equity and governance in India. Tamil Nadu has to improve its SEQI (see Figure).

Use of Technologies

Tamil Nadu effectively leverages the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in schools. The use of technology in schools help in bridging the gap in access to information and learning outcomes. The technology has enabled student-centric learning. Hi-tech labs are being established in Government High and Higher Secondary Schools at a cost of Rs 520 crore. Smart classrooms are also being established in primary and middle schools. The teachers have been encouraged to come up with creative ways of using ICT solutions to teach their students effectively.

These measures are important. The 2018, report of the Annual Survey of Education Report [ASER] found that the percentages of children in standard V in Tamil Nadu government schools who can read standard II level text was 46.3 compared to 73.1 in Kerala. Similarly, the percentage of children in government schools in standard V who can do division was 27.1.

Higher education

There is a growing demand for higher education in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu ranked first in respect of Gross Enrolment Ratio [GER] for higher education. The GER of 18-23 age groups in higher education in 2017-18 was 46.9 per cent in Tamil Nadu as against all India level of 25.8 per cent. The ratio in percentages for males was 48.2 compared to 45.6 in females.

There are 59 different types of Universities in Tamil Nadu.
State Universities (includes monofield universities) 21
State Open University 1
Central Universities 2
Deemed Universities 27
Private Universities 2
Institutes of National Importance (INIs) 6

Recently the state legislation in Tamil Nadu established two private universities. The total number of private universities in India is 333, Rajasthan (51) comes first, followed by Gujarat (34) and Madhya Pradesh (33). Of the 128 deemed-to-be-universities in India, Tamil Nadu has 27. While one of the private deemed university has been recognised as the Institute of Eminence, most of the others are of substandard quality.

According to the National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF) for 2018, 18 universities from Tamil Nadu are placed within the top 100 ranks.

Monofield Universities

Tamil Nadu has the largest number of monofield or single discipline universities such as in Music and Fine Arts, Teacher Education, Sports and Physical Education, Fisheries, etc. When the New Education Policy 2019 comes into effect, these universities have to be abolished or converted as multifield institutions. The abolition of mono-field institutions will be necessary to ensure the credibility of university education.

Colleges in Tamil Nadu

There are 908 professional colleges in Tamil Nadu.
The total number of Arts and Science Colleges in Tamil Nadu: 1318.
The total enrolment in colleges in 2017-18 was 22.7 lakh. The UG enrolment was 24.92 lakh and PG enrolment was 4.39 lakh.

The self-financing arts and science colleges are likely to increase while the number of engineering colleges will decline due to a lack of enrolment. The decline is attributed to poor pass rate and quality of teaching in a large number of engineering institutions. For example, in 2019, the pass percentage in Anna university affiliated colleges was shockingly low. There are a total of 482 affiliated engineering colleges.

Scope for improvement

The scenario relating to school education appears healthy. The present system of teacher education and training is very faulty. The New Education Policy suggests total revamping of the teacher education system, placing it in a university setting and insisting on a four-year multidisciplinary curriculum.

There is a need to initiate a transformation of the higher education system to cope up with the social, economic and technological changes which are already underway and are likely to accelerate in the future. The teaching and learning methods would have to undergo drastic changes and Tamil Nadu has the opportunity to be a pioneer in these endeavours.

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