Mumbai: Uttar Pradesh has the most crime against women and is the worst in terms of girls’ education, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, general secretary of the Indian National Congress, tweeted on December 17, 2019.

Gandhi Vadra’s claim is partly true, a analysis of government data found. While Uttar Pradesh (UP), India’s most populous state, recorded the highest number of cases of crime against women in 2017--the latest year for which national crime data are available--it ranked 16th on the rate of crime against women (crimes per 100,000 women).

Further, while UP had the worst age-specific attendance ratio for girls--the indicator analysed in the media report cited by Gandhi Vadra--the state ranked 19th on reading levels and 23rd on arithmetic levels, our analysis found.

Age-specific attendance ratio (ASAR) cannot be the only indicator to measure a state’s performance on education, experts said.

UP’s rate of crime against women lower than 15 states' and UTs'

In 2017, Uttar Pradesh reported 56,011 cases of crime against women--the highest nationwide. But, the state ranks, as we said, 16th in terms of crime rate with 53.2 per 100,000 women, as per the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) Crime in India 2017 report.

In 2011, UP had a population of nearly 200 million, with women accounting for 48%, as per Census 2011. The NCRB calculates crime rate based on mid-year population estimates, which pegged the state’s population at 222 million in 2017.

Assam (143.6) reported the highest crime rate against women in 2017, followed by Delhi (133.3), Telangana (94.7), Odisha (94.5) and Haryana (88.7). The national average for crime rate against women was 57.9.

Maharashtra reported the second-highest cases (31,979) after UP, followed by West Bengal (30,992), Madhya Pradesh (29,788) and Rajasthan (25,993).

Source: National Crime Records Bureau
Note: Crime rate is a measure of cases per 100,000 population. In this case, rate of crime against women is calculated as crime per 100,000 women.

Low attendance

Gandhi Vadra cited a report by Jansatta, a Hindi news publication of The Indian Express group, for her claim on girls’ education. The report, published on December 16, 2019, analyses the age-specific attendance ratio based on data from the Household Social Consumption on Education in India report of the National Sample Survey (NSS) 75th Round (July 2017-June 2018), released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

ASAR is the percentage of persons in an age-group currently attending educational institutions, irrespective of the level or class in which they are studying. The NSS report provided data for eight age-groups: 3-5 years, 6-10 years, 11-13 years, 14-17 years, 18-23 years, 24-29 years, 5-29 years and 3-35 years. The Jansatta report focused on two age-groups: 3-5 years and 14-17 years, and said that UP fared the worst in both categories.

UP ranked third worst on ASAR of girls aged 3-5 years: 22.7% girls in that age-group were attending an educational institution in UP, the NSS report showed. Bihar had the lowest (18.1%), followed by Chhattisgarh (22.2%). The national average was 32.1%.

Further, 64.5% girls aged 14-17 years in UP were attending an educational institution--the lowest among 22 states surveyed--followed by Odisha (67.4%), Madhya Pradesh (68.5%) and Gujarat (71%), the NSS report showed. The national average was 77.5%.

In both age-groups, Kerala had the highest ASAR among the states surveyed: 60.2% in the 3-5 years age-group and 99.5% in the 14-17 years age-group.

Overall, of the eight age-groups, UP ranks at the bottom in two age-groups: 6-10 years and 14-17 years.

Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
Note: Figures for rural Delhi is not presented separately. However, ‘rural + urban’ for Delhi includes, ‘rural’ also.

The average dropout rate at elementary level (grades I to VIII) in UP reduced from 7.7% in 2013-14 to 7.24% in 2017-18, according to the Unified District Information System for Education, the government told the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) on July 15, 2019.

In the 3-35 years age-group, the largest classified category, Odisha had the lowest ASAR (35.9%), followed by Assam (36.8%), Karnataka (38.4%), Gujarat (38.6%) and Andhra Pradesh (39.1%). UP and Telangana, both scoring 41.6%. Himachal Pradesh had the highest ASAR (51.7%). The national average was 41.2%.

States’ performance on education cannot be analysed on ASAR alone: experts

“Many indicators together determine the status of education,” Rohini Mukherjee, chief policy officer at Naandi Foundation, a Hyderabad-based social sector organisation, told, adding that while ASAR could be one of them, “it cannot be the only one which indicates the status of education in any place”.

Mukherjee pointed to educational outcome indicators from the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and Naandi Foundation’s Teen Age Girls (TAG) survey conducted in 2017.

“One of the data points in this survey was the percentage of girls [13-19 years] currently studying,” Mukherjee said. “This data point for UP was 64.4%, placing it at 28th position out of 29 states surveyed.”

Though correlated with learning, ASAR is not quite an indicator of the quality of education received by the child, Wilima Wadhwa, director and head of ASER Centre, said. “A better indicator to use would be the learning level of the child.”

The ASER assessment is an oral assessment of basic reading and arithmetic conducted at home. Wadhwa also pointed to the National Achievement Survey (NAS)--pegged at grade level and done for different subjects in a pen-and-paper format in school. “As a result, these two are not comparable,” Wadhwa said.

“Learning levels in UP for a long time have been flat, but we saw an increase in 2018 over 2016 in the overall performance of boys and girls,” Wadhwa added.

UP ranked 19th on reading levels, 23rd on arithmetic levels

In 2018, less than half (46.5%) the girls aged 5-16 years in UP could read a grade II text--up 7.2 percentage points from 39.3% in 2016, according to ASER 2018 report. Seven states had a lower percentage than UP. Arunachal Pradesh had the worst (36%), followed by Jharkhand (38%), Assam (41.2%) and Jammu & Kashmir (42.2%). Kerala had the highest (73.7%), while the national average was 49.90%.

Similarly, less than two in five (38.7%) girls aged 5-16 years could perform arithmetic operations such as subtraction and division--up from 32.1% in 2016. Three states--Madhya Pradesh (34.7%), Rajasthan (38.3%) and Meghalaya (38.5%)--had a lower percentage than UP. Mizoram had the highest (67.8%), while the national average was 45.1%.

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