Education ministry must explain why 49,000 schools dropped out of UDISE Plus

UDISE Plus: Claim that over 39 lakh children shifted to government schools may be false, says academic who built UDISE in analysis of latest data.

Education ministry must explain why 49,000 schools dropped out of UDISE Plus UDISE Plus: AC Mehta helped build and refine India's largest school education database
Team Careers360 | Mar 14, 2022 - 5:12 p.m. IST
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By AC Mehta

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The UDISE+ 2020-21 Report briefly presents analysis at the all-India level and state-specific statements for all the states and union territories, including Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, data which was collected as of September 30, 2020. The first-ever UDISE+ report for the year 2019-20 was released by the ministry on July 1, 2021. It may be recalled that UDISE from the year 2018-19 is being managed by the department of school education and literacy, ministry of education. The report of UDISE+ 2018-19 is yet to be released. Though it is late, it would be better to bring out the printed version of the UDISE+ 2018-19 report rather than making it available on the portal. From 2005-06 to 2020-21, the year 2018-19 is the only one for which no report has been published.

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The time-lag in educational statistics at one point of time was a year at the national level, which is now surely on increase. However, the 2020-21 data has taken a little less time to release than the UDISE+ 2019-20 data. Still, it has taken more than 18 months to release the 2020-21 data. Since the claim is that UDISE+ is a completely online system, it should have taken much less time. With the delay, the original plan of providing real-time data has been forfeited. It was also claimed that since the UDISE+ data was to be real-time, there was no need for a date of reference. The UDISE+ 2020-21, as well as the 2019-20+ reports, clearly mention that the data provided is as of September 30 of the concerned year.

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Here are some quick observations.

Age-specific child population

Like UDISE+ 2019-20, UDISE+ 2020-21 enrolment indicators are also based on child population provided by the Report of the Technical Group on Population Projections, National Commission on Population, ministry of health, and family welfare (July 2020), which is a welcome development. The projected child population presented below reveals that the child population in the 6 to 13-years age bracket has declined to 189.59 million in 2020-21, from 190.79 million in 2019-20 – a decline of 1.20 million or 0.63%. One of the reasons for the improvement in GER, if any, is also partially because of this decline in the corresponding child population.

Age-specific Projected Child Population

6 to 10 Years11 to 13 years


Source: UDISE+ 2019-20 & 2020-21, DoSE&L, Ministry of Education

UDISE Plus: Statistical tables

Here are some quick observations on the statistical tables:

  • Like the Flash Statistics in the previous years (up to 2017-18), none of the UDISE+ 2020-21 tables have time-series information. In its absence, one has to download and refer to individual year’s data.
  • At the national level, while UDISE+ 2019-20 rightly compared indicators with 2012-13 UDISE data, the first year of the unification of DISE and SEMIS, in UDISE+ 2020-21, indicators have only been compared with 2018-19 and 2019-20, the years from which UDISE is managed by the ministry.
  • A little analysis has been presented in UDISE+ 2020-21 Report and that too at the all-India level only.
  • In addition to the indicators presented, a few indicators such as the source of drinking water, percentage of contractual teachers, Gross Enrolment Ratio of Muslim enrolment, etc., should have found a place in the report. Similarly, Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) age-specific, net enrolment ratios, and adjusted net enrolment ratios have not been presented.
  • In addition to indicators, most of the tables present absolute numbers which are of limited use. To the extent possible, all the numbers should have been presented in the percentage form.
  • Since comprehensive information about enrolment in Class 1 is now available along with the corresponding age-six child population, it was expected that apart from enrolment ratios, entry or intake rate would find a place in UDISE+ 2020-21 report. No meaningful planning can be undertaken without analyzing the entry rate bringing all children of age six under the umbrella of education is the necessary condition to move towards universal school education as envisaged in the National Education Policy 2020.

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UDISE+ 2020-21: Drop in coverage of schools

At this point, only the total schools offering different levels of education and whether they are government and or private is available. Detailed analysis of coverage is not possible.

The UDISE+ 2020-21 is silent on the number of schools covered and starts its analysis directly on enrolment. The number of schools covered under UDISE+ 2019-20 had declined by 43,292 and the number under the department of education declined by more than 50,000 but no explanation was given for the drastic decline in coverage of schools under UDISE+ 2019-20. At the same time, the number of private unrecognized schools increased by 11,271, or 3.75 percent. However, UDISE+ 2020-21 covers 1,428 more schools, an increase of 0.09 percent, and 3,254 more private unaided schools, or 0.96 percent. If we compare the number of schools with that covered under UDISE 2017-18, the last year UDISE was managed by the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), the decline is of 49,767 schools, or 3.19 percent. The ministry must furnish reasons for the decline – is it due to closure or merger of schools? If so, what were the criteria used?

Number of Schools

YearNumber of SchoolsIncrease/
Change (In %)Government SchoolsPrivate Schools

2018-1915,51,000- 7,903- 0.5
2019-2015,07,708- 43,292- 2.81032570337499
2017-18 to 2020-21
- 49,767- 3.19

Source: UDISE & UDISE+, different years.

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UDISE Plus: Enrolment

Total Classes 1 to 12 enrolment in UDISE+ 2020-21 show an increase of 2.83 million which is still lower than the total enrolment in 2012-13. However, the highest-ever enrolment of 260.60 million was recorded in 2015-16. The UDISE+ 2020-21 data was recorded on September 30, 2020 because of which the complete impact of COVID-19 may not be reflected. More shift of students to government schools is expected in the 2021-22 data.

The government press release mentions that a total of 39.7 lakh students shifted from aided and unaided private schools to government schools which may not be fully true. Enrolment in aided, unaided, and other schools in 2020-21 declined by only 14.50 lakhs – all of them may not have shifted to government schools. Could the remaining 28.33 lakh students be fresh admissions in the government schools? Because of the shift to government schools, its share of total enrolment has slightly increased to 52.18 percent. The share of private unaided schools has declined to 34.71 percent in 2020-21 from 35.43 percent in the previous year. In the coming year, 2021-22, the government share to total enrolment is expected to further improve. Since the COVID is now almost over, the government must make all efforts to ensure that students do not shift back to private schools.

Enrolment By School Management
Management2017-18%2019-20%2020-21Change %
Classes 1-1225,09,89,19310025,09,71,68310025,38,04,46128,32,778100

Source: UDISE+ It may be recalled that total enrolment in UDISE 2012-13 was 25,42,75,128, which is 471 thousand more than enrolment in 2020-21. The highest ever total enrolment was 26,05,96,960 in the year 2015-16.

The increase in total enrolment under government management in 2020-21 is also reflected in the elementary enrolment which has seen a decline by 14.95 lakh under aided and unaided managements. Surprisingly, a main reason for decline in enrolment is due to a decline in aided schools. Despite this, the share of elementary enrolment in unaided schools stands at 34.12 percent.

Enrolment In Classes 1-8
Management2017-18%2019-20%2020-21Change %
Private Unaided6,08,60,03732.406,49,99,10234.846,40,98,229-9,00,87334.12
Classes 1-818,78,26,62210018,65,60,09010018,78,75,49013,15,400100

Source: UDISE+

School Enrolment Ratio: 2019-20 and 2020-21

Like previous years, UDISE+ 2020-21 also presents a variety of enrolment ratios all of which suggest that the goal of universal school enrolment is still a far distant dream and will be challenging to achieve by 2030, as envisaged in NEP 2020 and reflected in India's commitment towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals for education. For example, UDISE+ 2020-21 indicates that about 54 percent of children of 16 to 17 years are not enrolled in the corresponding level of education; in the case of 14-15 year-olds, about 26 percent are not enrolled in the secondary level of education. Further, about four percent children aged 6-13 years are not enrolled which needs immediate attention.

Enrolment Ratios (In %)


Primary102.7103.391.492.797.398.697.398.6 (6-10 years)
Upper Primary89.792. (11-13 years)
Elementary97.899.183.792.194.496.094.496.0 (6-13 years)
Secondary77.979.850.252.560.261.872.473.4 (14-15 years)
Higher Secondary51.453.832.334.7--44.246.3 (16-17 years)

Source: UDISE+ 2019-20 & 2020-21

Enrolment indices should be computed at the disaggregated levels, such as block and district levels, and due attention given while formulating school education annual work plan and budget under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. The improvement, especially at secondary and higher secondary levels, is marginal.

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Also, because of changes in the school structure, not only will the existing set of indicators need reconsideration, a set of new indicators must be worked out for each phase of education – Foundational, Preparatory, Middle, Secondary. It is hoped that UDISE+ 2021-22 will present the revised set of enrollment-based indicators corresponding to changes recommended in the NEP 2020.

The UDISE+ 2020-21 claim that “changes in GER are usually not much on a year-to-year basis” is factually wrong and misleading. This is reflected in the GER at the primary level during 2017-18 and 2018-19 based on UDISE itself presented below.

Enrolment Ratio: Primary, Elementary

Type of Enrolment Ratio

School efficiency indicators

Indicators through which one can judge the efficiency of the education system have been presented both at the all-India and state levels. Attaining 100 percent NER is necessary but to achieve universal enrolment, children must be retained. Data shows a steep decline in the average annual dropout rate in recent years.

At the primary level, the dropout rate has declined from 4.5 percent for the 2017-18 cohort to 1.5 percent for the 2018-19 cohort and further to 0.8 percent for 2019-20. This needs further analysis, especially the repetition rate at this level which is reported to be 0.1 percent. The dropout rate is computed based on all schools instead of common schools – which had been a practice from 2005-06 to 2017-18 -- which may produce an underestimate of the dropout rate. Therefore, the dropout rates for 2018-19 onwards are not comparable with data from 2005-06 to 2017-18.

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The dropout is also low at 1.9 percent per annum at the upper primary level which is encouraging but the same at the secondary level is reported to be 14.6 percent per annum. Further, the transition rate reveals that about 27 percent of students dropped out from the system between secondary to higher secondary level of education and the retention rate at this level of education is only 62 percent indicating a high dropout of 38 percent in between the system. Retention rate even at the elementary level of education is reported to be 81 percent, indicating about 19 percent of children drop out in between one level of education and another.

Efficiency Indicators

Indicator 2020-21BoysGirlsTotal2019-20
Dropout Rate
Upper Primary1.
Transition Rate
Primary to Upper Primary92.092.392.192.8
Upper Primary to Secondary92.490.191.391.4
Secondary to Higher Secondary72.574.173.371.6
Retention Rate
Primary (Classes 1 to 5)94.795.995.387.0
Elementary (Classes 1 to 8)79.982.180.974.6
Secondary (Classes 1 to 10)61.961.161.559.6
Higher Secondary (Classes 1 to 12)42.143.642.840.2

Computer, internet facilities

UDISE data over a period of time suggests that most of the facilities in schools are improving. However, the availability of computers and internet connectivity in schools is far than satisfactory.

FacilityAll Schools

Only 40 percent of schools have a computer and 24.5 percent have internet connectivity. This is also crucial for UDISE+ which is said to be an online paperless real-time system. It is easy to imagine how schools manage an online information system without the internet and computer in the schools. School officials or teachers rush to block-level offices or nearest cyber cafés to upload and update data online. In one of the larger states, namely Bihar about 86 percent of schools do not have computers compared to 94 percent of schools that do not have got access to internet facilities in school; percentages in the case of Uttar Pradesh is 79 and 94 percent respectively.

Arun C Mehta, formerly professor and head of the EMIS department, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), New Delhi

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