The state of schools in India

The state of schools in India

Published on :- January 28th, 2022

24th January is observed as International Day of Education. To mark this day, and in light of the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that seeks to revamp the education system from multidisciplinary learning to holistic pedagogical structure, we take a quick look at the foundational infrastructure for education that will make this possible - schools. The education system in India is one of the largest in the world comprising more than 1.5 million schools, 9.6 million teachers, and over 264 million students.

The number of schools and the quality of schools are primary factors in understanding the basic prevailing conditions in accessing education. Unified District Information System For Education Plus (UDISE+) under the Ministry of Education collects data on multiple indicators that determine school quality.

The total number of schools in India has steadily decreased from 2017 to 2020 by 3%.

While over 50,000 government schools shut down in the span of a year from 2019 to 2020, the number of private schools has grown.

In line with the population distribution, 84% of schools lie in rural areas. As of 2020, 70% of the total schools are government schools and 92% of these government schools lie in rural areas - making rural government schools a key focus demographic for improvement of education. There is a 3.5% decrease between 2019 and 2020 in the number of rural schools while the number of urban schools has continued to grow.

For education to be accessible, not only do schools need to be available, they also need to have basic facilities and infrastructure to facilitate learning. The quality of schools has seen an improvement across three areas - water & sanitation, electricity & digital access, and infrastructure & services.

As of 2019-2020, 88% of schools have WASH facilities, 90% have functional electricity, over 80% have libraries & playgrounds, 62% have computers and 43% have internet access.

In terms of water and sanitation, functional toilet facilities, especially for girls, are crucial to ensure a safe and inclusive environment.

In this regard, though the proportion of functional toilet facilities are similar among government and private schools, the functional toilets for girls in specific are higher among private schools by 9%. The north-eastern states fare worse than the rest of the country in all water & sanitation indicators while Andhra Pradesh ranks last in functional toilet facilities in schools (that is, less than 80%).

Electricity & digital access: 9% of schools that have access to electricity do not have functional computers while 18% of schools that have functional computers do not have internet connectivity - potentially key intervention areas for schools that have the basic resources to support better digital access. The growth in the number of schools with functional electricity by 7%, with computers by 5%, with internet connectivity by 12% is surely a positive sign.

Physical infrastructure and services: a greater proportion of schools have playgrounds in rural areas and conduct periodic medical check-ups compared to urban areas and a greater proportion of urban schools have libraries compared to rural areas. As a positive sign, schools conducting medical check-ups have gone up by 12% and schools having playgrounds have gone up by 5% from 2016-2017.

Overall, though there is no growth in the number of schools, basic facilities available at schools have seen an improvement across WASH, electricity & infrastructure from 2016 to 2020.. Further, there is a great variation in the quality of facilities among the type and location of schools - private schools outperform government schools while urban schools outperform rural schools on most quality indicators - pointing to key intervention areas for further improvement.

For more data assets on Education related indicators - Click here.

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