29 August 2005

Primary school attendance in India

Today I will begin a series of posts that take a closer look at gender disparity in school attendance. Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals calls for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The targets listed under this goal include the elimination of gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and at all levels of education no later than 2015.

Education statistics published by UNESCO are mostly based on administrative records of enrollment. Data from household surveys are an alternative source of statistics on school attendance. Because household surveys collect data on various characteristics of children and the households they live in it is possible to analyze gender disparity in more detail than with national enrollment data on primary or secondary education.

With household survey data a child is counted as being in school if one of the following two conditions is met:
  1. The child attended school during the week preceding the survey.
  2. The child was in school anytime during the year preceding the survey. This condition is added to account for children who were not in school because they were ill, because they were on vacation, or for other reasons.
In India, one of the most recent surveys is a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) that was conducted in 2000. Overall, 72.1% of all children of primary school age (6-10 years) were attending primary school according to the data from the India MICS (see also the graph in a previous post). The graph below presents the primary school NAR for boys and girls disaggregated by the area of residence and by household wealth.

Primary school net attendance rate, India 2000
Bar chart with male and female primary school net attendance rate in India, 2000
Data source: India 2000 MICS.

In the country as a whole, more boys than girls go to primary school. The NAR of boys is 6.6% higher than the NAR of girls (see the table below). This gender disparity at the country level is clearly driven by the patterns of school attendance in rural areas and in poor households. In urban areas and among the richest 20% of the population, boys' and girls' attendance rates are virtually identical. Rural families and those from the poorest 20% of the population, on the other hand, are likely to send only boys to school when they cannot afford education for all their children. To reach the Millennium Development Goal of gender parity, policy makers have to focus their efforts on rural India and on households that suffer from poverty.

Primary school net attendance rate, India 2000

NAR (%)
Male NAR (%)Female NAR (%)Difference
male- female
female/ male
Richest 20%81.981.881.9-0.11.00
Poorest 20%64.067.760.27.50.89
GPI: gender parity index. - Data source: India 2000 MICS.

Friedrich Huebler, 29 August 2005 (edited 27 January 2007), Creative Commons License.

1 comment:

Missy said...

This is great blog! I'll keep coming back.