Household survey-based estimate reflects more comprehensively the educational status of college-age population than All India Survey of Higher Education.
By Venkatanarayana Motkuri
Hyderabad: The All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20 has put the gross enrolment ratio (GER) for Telangana at 36% as against the national average of 26%. We believe it is an underestimate not only for Telangana but also for all-India, because an estimate based on a national-level large-scale household survey ie, third in the annual series of Period Labour Force Survey (PLFS-3), indicates the higher per cent in 2019-20 for the State and the country as well. The discrepancy explained and estimates presented are as follows.
First of all, for the State-level estimate, net-migration of students is a factor causing discrepancies. If the number of students from a State (for instance, Telangana) enrolling in any post-secondary educational programmes in institutions outside the State or in jurisdictional coverage of the other States is more than those students from the other States enrolled in institutions in the State (Telangana), the GER based on AISHE is an underestimate for that State (Telangana).
AISHE does not consider the nativity of the student but the location or State-level political/administration jurisdiction of educational institutions. GER based on AISHE considers the ratio of all students (irrespective of their nativity) enrolled in institutions located in a State to college-age population (18-23 years) in the State. The same logic applies to the discrepancy of country-level estimate owing net in/out-flow of students.
The household survey-based estimate, on the other hand, counts students for the State based on residential status for all those students enrolled in institutions outside the State.
Secondly, AISHE does not cover all the educational institutions offering post-secondary educational programmes. Its coverage largely encompasses institutions recognised by the UGC or other bodies like AICTE, ICMR, ICAR, etc. Many institutions are not recognised by regulatory bodies but industry and job markets recognise graduates from these institutions. For instance, the Indian School of Business has not got any recognition from higher education regulatory bodies, but its graduates are well-recognised across the globe.
Further, for reporting, AISHE institutions have to be registered with the Ministry of Education. But one is not sure if all the recognised institutions follow this. Again, even among those registered institutions, one could find that a considerable number have not been reporting for AISHE annually. As indicated by AISHE 2019-20, 100 institutions in Telangana have not reported; some of the welfare Residential Degree Colleges are not yet reporting for AISHE.
The household survey-based estimate counts all those students studying outside the State or country and those omitted in the coverage of AISHE. National-level household surveys like PLFS collect information on educational levels of the population along with the enrolment/current attendance status of the population below 30 years of age. In this respect, in any school or college-age cohort (6-18 or 18-23 years), one can classify children/population in that cohort as those who are attending and those who are not attending educational institutions – who have never enrolled and enrolled but not attending (ie dropouts).
An estimate based on the PLFS-3 (2019) for school-age population indicates that Telangana has been nearing the universalisation of school attendance as 99.5% of 6-14 years-age children and around 92% of 15-17 years-age are attending schools. The national average is 96% and 82% respectively. It is a constitutional mandate for the country and its provinces (States) to ensure that all children of 6-14 years-age attend formal schooling. Further, it is a global norm that all children below 18 years complete school education (class 1 to 12). Telangana has nearly met the constitutional mandate and is close to meeting the global norm.
Estimates based on PLFS-3 indicate that in the college-age population (18-23 years age), only 2% of them in Telangana have never enrolled at any age so far in any educational institutions, but nearly 46% of them enrolled earlier but are currently not attending, that means they have dropped out, while 52% of them are attending educational institutions.
It was found that 21% of college-age population in Telangana dropped out before completing higher secondary, 11% after completing higher secondary and the remaining 14% completed higher secondary and pursued post-secondary (UG and/or PG) education as well before they dropped out. Similarly, 9.6% of college-age population in Telangana is pursuing (currently attending) higher secondary level or below and the remaining around 41% completed higher secondary and are pursuing post-secondary education.
One should notice that an estimate based on the household survey of PLFS-3 (2019-20) for the percentage of college-age (18-23 years age) population pursuing post-secondary or higher education in Telangana is 41% which is five percentage points higher than GER estimate of AISHE (2019-20). The all-India average is 28.5% (PLFS-3) which is just two percentage points above the country’s average GER based on AISHE.
Further, the percentage of college-age population in Telangana either completed or pursuing any post-secondary is nearly 55% (41% currently pursuing and 14% completed) which is conspicuously high while the national average is 37% (28.5% and 8.5% respectively).
Looking at the relative performance of the State, Telangana has 10 percentage points higher GER (AISHE) than that of the national average, while the household survey (PLFS-3) based modified estimate indicates that State is having 18.5 percentage points higher than that of the country average. Further, Telangana is ranked 4th among the States in this regard (PLFS-3 estimate), next only to Puducherry (67%), Tamil Nadu (61%) and Kerala (57%).
In terms of absolute numbers, the estimated college-age population for Telangana is around 45.6 lakh. Household survey indicates nearly 25.2 lakh are the estimated students who have either completed or pursuing post-secondary educational programmes and courses. Among the latter, 6.3 lakh have completed and 18.8 lakh are currently pursuing post-secondary. AISHE estimates indicate nearly 14 lakh is the enrolment for higher education in Telangana. The difference in estimates of the two sources is huge.
In conclusion, the household survey (PLFS-3)-based modified estimate is justified as it reflects more comprehensively the educational status of college-age population which is the standard reference group, and hence the denominator for the performance indicator of higher education. In the college-age population, one should not ignore those who have completed post-secondary education. They may not be treated simply as dropouts as they have reached the last mile of the educational system.
When compared to the GER of AISHE, the higher percentage of those pursuing post-secondary education programmes as per the estimate based on household survey is because of its coverage and count of students studying outside the State jurisdiction and in institutions in the State or otherwise but not covered in AISHE.
(The author is with Research Cell on Education, Centre for Economic and Social Studies [CESS], Hyderabad.)