14 Oct 2008, 0022 hrs IST,TNN

Delhi comes second in educational development

NEW DELHI: At a time when the state government is desperately looking for reasons to cheer, the educational development index (EDI) taken out by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NEUPA), placing Delhi at the second position in the country, has come as the perfectly timed election sop. While officials claim it's the result of greater emphasis on infrastructure that the state has been providing, the government is only too happy to take the credit for a showing that is impressive by any standards.

As per the EDI, Delhi comes a close second to Kerala, which has the highest educational development index. The parameters for Delhi's impressive showing were many, including better accessibility, percentage of students enrolling in schools and far better infrastructure in terms of drinking water, toilets and other basic facilities. In fact, Delhi's EDI in the infrastructure indicator is the best in the country, a fact the directorate of education officials say is evident.

Said Rina Ray, secretary (education), "There's been a lot of emphasis on upgrading infrastructure over the past years. Besides, we've also actively tried to improve our teaching methodology by emphasising on teacher training programmes as well as textbooks, which have been made more interactive and fun.'' Ray claims the showing of Delhi has particularly paid off because of the improved pass percentage of government schools in the state, touching 83.68% this year. That's not all. The directorate has identified 200 school buildings in the city which will be refurbished, so as to make them at par with private schools. Drinking water facilities with ROs, additional taps, child-friendly furniture, new classrooms, fire safety all will now be put into place.

The project, which has already started in a school in Gandhi Nagar and will be first completed in the east and north-east districts of the city, is part of a public-private partnership model that the government has started. It's expected to upgrade 200 buildings around 300 schools as part of the project.

Officials in NEUPA, however, say the EDI is beyond merely ranks. "It's an indicator, which also shows areas where the states are lacking. In Delhi, for instance, the gross enrolment rate is not good, neither is the percentage of dropouts. These need to be addressed,'' said a senior official. Delhi hasn't done very well in other indicators as well, like accessibility, which is basically the number of schools for every 1,000 child population. At the primary level, Delhi ranks a dismal 11, lower than Assam or Chhattisgarh. It's a fact that both DoE and government officials admit has to be tackled. DoE says it has tried to plug the lacunae with steps like no detention till class VIII as well as automatic admission of students from MCD schools into government schools.

Times of India, October 14, 2008