Education in Uttar Pradesh vs Tamil Nadu: There’s literally no competition.

The most populous state of India deserves better policies and better priorities to catch up.

Lately, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have been compared on many occasions. Just in the last month, an assertion was made that Uttar Pradesh (UP) has overtaken Tamil Nadu (TN) in terms of GST collection for the month of April. Usually, Tamil Nadu had relatively higher GST collections than UP. Around late December and early January, it was claimed that UP has overtaken Tamil Nadu in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) value. However, that turned out to be false.

Even in Tamil Nadu, many leaders from the BJP and the right-wing organisations have expressed that the state needs BJP to come to power as they have delivered better results than Tamil Nadu in Uttar Pradesh and other BJP-ruled states. So, there is a constant attempt to position BJP’s UP Model vs Tamil Nadu’s Model, the Dravidian Model, as the State Government likes to call it.

There is an obvious difference in scale when comparing UP with other states in India both in terms of Population and land area. UP has an estimated population of around 25 crores as compared to Tamil Nadu’s population which is estimated to hover a little over 8 crores. Then, there is a land area. UP is geographically bigger than TN by almost twice while the population is bigger by three times. This puts UP at a disadvantage given the higher population and its higher density which too plays a crucial role.

How has UP fared in Education?

It is a given that UP has not been able to develop in the same levels as that of its southern counterparts. One could give many justifications and disadvantages that UP might potentially have but none commands the same importance as education. UP’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath boasts of having the most youngsters in the country and their potential. But how skilled and qualified they can become given their domicile being set in UP? This is a pertinent question because UP’s Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education is a meagre 23.2 as per Economic Survey 2022-23.

Source: UDISE+ Report 2021-22
Source: UDISE+ Report 2021-22

To put it in simple terms, only 23% of the people in the age group 18-23 are getting formal education. This number is 46.9% in Tamil Nadu which is often compared to UP lately. It is to be noted that this is the poorest TN’s numbers have been for quite some time as the numbers were around 50% not long ago and the state is expected to bounce back sooner than later. It’s not just that in higher education in which the GER is low for UP. Even for 9th and 10th standard & for 11th and 12th standard, UP’s GER is 69.3% and 50.7% respectively. The corresponding numbers for Tamil Nadu is 95.6% and 81.5%. UP is able to retain only 42.5% of the students till 12th standard.

Source: UDISE+ Report 2021-22

Money plays a key role:

For students to drop out early and not pursue higher education, money plays a key role. It does not necessarily mean the money that the student or his/her parents have. It’s the money that the state is spending on the student. According to the actual figures spent on education by UP and TN, UP has spent only 1.44; 1.42 and 1.55 times the amount that TN has spent in total. When we factor in the population of the states, the per capital spending on education is considerably less.

Poor infrastructure:

With this dismal spending on education, UP’s education infrastructure is poor across the board. The state cannot get medical checkups conducted in 60% of its schools. Almost 75% of the schools do not even have functional computers and 79% of the schools do not have working internet connection. To make matters worse, almost 20% of the schools in UP do not even have functioning electricity connection.

Source: UDISE+ Report 2021-22
Source: UDISE+ Report 2021-22
Source: UDISE+ Report 2021-22
Source: UDISE+ Report 2021-22

Reduction in schools:

Since 2017-18, UP has closed 26,330 Government schools in the state. Although private schools have increased slightly, UP has 24,411 schools lesser than what it had in 2017-18. It should be noted that BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017 and has ruled the state since.

 

Priorities seem to be different:

By ensuring the political rhetoric focussed almost solely on temple and religion, by both for the Chief Minister of the state and for the Prime Minister of the country, UP’s common people are not made aware of the great injustice done to them by their elected leaders. Both leaders seem to have escaped the scrutiny of the people and avoided questions on their performance and delivery. They have successfully prioritised Love Jihad, Temples, Mosques, Land Jihad, Cow Protection etc & created and weaponised Hindu vs Muslim divide to never seen before levels.

Fearmongering, hate speech and misinformation seem to be the go-to solution to hide this despicable performance. Sure, previous rulers could be questioned. But 10 years at the centre and 7 years in the state (double-engine?), the state has managed to close over 26 thousand schools and continue to perform poorly but being able to walk scot-free from media and public scrutiny deserves a separate discussion by itself.

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Ramasamy Jayaprakash

Ramasamy works as a Senior Sub-Editor at YouTurn and writes articles in Tamil and English. He also makes videos for YouTurn's Tamil & English YouTube channels.
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