India boasts of an incredibly high enrollment rate of children in schools. As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2012, 96.5% of all rural children between the ages of 6-14 were enrolled in school. This is the fourth annual survey to report enrollment above 96%.
The Indian government lays emphasis on primary education, also referred to as elementary education, for children aged 5 to 14 years old. 80% of all recognized schools at the elementary stage are government run or supported, making the government the largest provider of education in India. Education has also been made free for children for 6 to 14 years of age or up to class VIII under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.
However, due to a shortage of resources, India’s education system suffers from massive gaps, including high pupil-to-teacher ratios, infrastructure shortages, and poor teacher training. Despite the high overall enrollment rate for primary education, half of rural 10-year-olds couldn’t read at a basic level, over 60% were unable to do division, and half dropped out of school by the age 14.
As 2015 dawned, we at SocialCops collaborated with Oxfam India to use data to empower every Member of Parliament and District Education Officer to understand what is missing in their district and thus drive solutions. We set out to build an interactive scorecard for the 1.4 million schools in India on how well they are implementing the parameters stipulated by the Right to Education Act. Check out the dashboard here!
Finding the Data
We used open government data as the base of the RTE dashboard. The District Information System for Education (DISE) — managed by NUEPA, the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi — covers almost all the eligible schools across most of the districts in India.
Our team mined the DISE raw data for 1.4 million schools in India, then we came up with the final district-wise indices for 10 performance points related to RTE implementation.
It is important to note here that we do have concerns with the quality of open government data, as discussed in our blog post “Is Our Education Data Failing Us”. However, NUEPA needs to be complemented for creating such a huge database.
Making Sense of the Data
Once we obtained and cleaned the school data, our team got down to the mammoth task of identifying the right indicators to measure RTE score. We used elastic search to make the data searchable.
We used 10 indicators for assigning a score to each school — availability of ramp, playground, boundary wall, drinking water facility, toilets for girls, pupil-teacher ratio, student-classroom ratio, and teacher-classroom ratio. Each of the indicators was given 1 point each if the school has the facility or a favorable ratio (as defined in the RTE Act). Each of the indicators got an equal weight in the final score for a school.
Each school was then mapped to their corresponding districts listed in Census 2011. The school-wise scores and the indicator-wise scores were then collapsed on a district level.
Visualizing the Data
Then came the fun part — how do we take the mammoth data set and make it easy to comprehend by a layman? How do we build a UI that ensures that every District Education Officer could understand how his district is doing and what he needs to do to improve the quality of education at a glance?
We visualized the data on a dynamic choropleth district map of India on the left, with a card on the right for users to view and play with the data. The user can either search the district name or click on the district on the map — making it engaging for people find their own district scores. The district score was compared with the state score as well as India’s score to give a perspective on the overall situation of each district. Also, the Members of Parliament are listed with the data for their district.
They say visualizing data tells stories. And stories they told…
Like the story of how Maharashtra is one of the best states for education and Karnataka had girls’ toilets in 100% of its schools. The story of how Bihar’s student-classroom ratios and student-teacher ratios are the worst in the country, and Maharashtra has the top 5 RTE-compliant districts. The disparity between high-quality education on the west coast and poor quality education in the northeast. The fact the 20 districts with lowest student-teacher ratios are in Bihar, and fewer than half the classrooms in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand have at least one teacher per classroom.
— Gautam John (@gkjohn) March 16, 2015
— Bharath Srikanth (@bharathsrikanth) March 15, 2015
This post was originally published on March 27, 2015. It was updated with a new deck and updated text on January 10, 2017.