Recent data released by the Union Education Ministry revealed that almost 374 districts in India have been identified as educationally backward. Among states, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 41 districts followed by Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar.
However, Tamil Nadu General Secretary of State Platform for Common School System Gajendra Babu opposed the numbers, which show almost 70% of Tamil Nadu districts as educationally backward. He said that the numbers neither reveal cause nor effect.
Speaking on the data presented by Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in Lok Sabha earlier this month, Babu said that the government should provide comprehensive details regarding the learning outcome instead of releasing just numbers.
The government used the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), which is the percentage of students who got enrolled in schools, to come up with the numbers.
According to the data, Tamil Nadu's districts, including Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruvallur, Vellore, and Kanchipuram, were listed as educationally backward districts.
Several education experts have opposed the numbers and said that Tamil Nadu has always remained ahead in terms of both school education as well as higher education. According to the All India Survey on Higher Education 2019-2020, Tamil Nadu's gross enrolment ratio was 51% which is better than other states. On the other hand, India's GER is just 27%.
Furthermore, the United Information System for Education Plus reported that, in Tamil Nadu, the enrollment ratios for junior classes stood at 98.9%, and higher classes stood at 70% in 2019-20.
Several others have also raised doubts regarding the data saying that the numbers don't portray the reality of state education. Educationalist MG Dawood Miakhan, who is also the general secretary of the Quaide Milleth Educational and Social Trust said that the numbers provided by the central government have no statistical justification. He added that Tamil Nadu is among the top three states in terms of GER and that there has to be a mistake in the data. He also mentioned that the number of women getting admitted has been increasing every year.