Engineering, management studies losing steam: Data
Engineering, information technology and management; the most sought after professional courses seem to be losing their popularity among students in India. And the cost of school education is rising at a faster rate than that of higher education -- a clear indication that private schools are tapping into the growing desire of parents of all economic classes to make early investments in their children’s education.
These are among the findings of a report released by the National Statistical Office (NSO). The other findings: Pursuit of timely and uninterrupted education has increased in India in the last decade; there has been a faster rise in enrolment of both young men and women in educational institutions; and there has been a rise in the share of students enrolled in government institutions at all educational levels in this period.
The NSO released its report “Key Indicators of Household Social Consumption on Education in India” last week. The report is based on a survey conducted between July 2017 and June 2018. Similar surveys were also conducted in 2014 and 2007-08. Comparing these statistics can give us an idea about changes in India’s education sector in the last one decade.
The report gives statistics on Net Attendance Ratio (NAR). NAR is the percentage share of person of official age-group attending an institution at a particular education level in the total population of that age group. The age groups for various education levels are: 6-10 years for primary, 11-13 years for upper-primary, 14-15 years for secondary, 16-17 years for higher secondary and 18-23 years for post higher secondary. Unlike Gross Attendance Ratio (GAR), which measures the share of all persons attending an educational institution at a given education level, NAR is a better metric of continuous education.
NAR for both men and women in 2017-18 is the highest since 2007-08 according to a comparison of the past three NAS reports on education. The improvement is gender neutral, and the biggest increase has happened in the post higher secondary category.
The NSO report also gives a detailed break-up of the courses students opt for both in general and technical education. Among those pursuing general education, almost half opted for humanities, nearly one third opted for sciences and around 19% pursued commerce in 2017-18. These shares are more or less similar to the 2014 figures. Technical education choices have changed significantly during this period though. The biggest drop is in the preference for engineering and Information Technology (IT) courses. Even management has become a less preferred option now. Medicine and law have become more popular than they were four years ago.
To be sure, engineering and IT still attract nearly half of the students opting for a technical/professional course in India. A disappointing statistic in the NSO report is that while the share of men attending courses from ITIs/recognised vocational institutes has increased by 3.9 percentage points between 2014 and 2017-18, that of women has actually fallen marginally. Given the low participation rate of women in the labour market, this does not bode well for an increase in their participation in labour markets.