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NEW DELHI : Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala topped the national school performance index with Meghalaya and Ladakh at the bottom, the Union education ministry said.

Five states and Union territories scored more than 90% for the first time and reached Level-2 or Grade I++ in the performance grading index (PGI) for 2019-20, the ministry said on Sunday. Other than Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the Union territories of Chandigarh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also in this category, with a score between 901 to 950 on a scale of 1,000.

However, for the third year in a row, none of the states or Union territories reached Level-1.

“Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Puducherry, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu have improved overall PGI score by 10%, or 100 or more points," the report said.

Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Puducherry are not in the top level as yet, despite their improved score.

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Following the five top performers at Level-2, seven regions, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat, Puducherry, Himachal Pradesh, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, scored 851-900, coming in Level-3.

The PGI exercise aims at encouraging states and Union territories to undertake multipronged interventions that will bring about optimal education outcomes. The PGI is structured in two categories, outcomes and governance and management, and comprises 70 indicators on aggregate, with a maximum score of 1,000.

The PGI provides grades to the states and Union territories, as opposed to ranks. Grading, by allowing several states and Union territories to be considered at the same level, eliminates the phenomenon of one improving only at the cost of others, which casts a stigma of underperformance on the latter.

Perceptions that population and performance are linked and that high population may adversely impact performance may not be true. “Population sometimes may be construed as a hindrance to development as it tends to increase the financial outlays for interventions by the government… (However) The effect of population on the performance of states and Union territories is inconclusive," the report said. “In terms of population size, the Level-2 states and Union territories are 33rd (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), 31st (Chandigarh), 13th (Kerala), 16th (Punjab), and 6th (Tamil Nadu). The population ranking of five states, including Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, which are in Grades 4 (Level-7) or below, are 28th, 35th, 24th and 26th respectively," the report said.

Governance and management and infrastructure of schools remain key concerns in several states, the report said. For the first time, one state (Punjab) has scored more than 90% in governance, but there are states such as Nagaland and Chhattisgarh which have scored less than 50%. The education ministry report showed that Punjab has scored 96.1% in governance and management, whereas Chhattisgarh has scored 169 and Nagaland has scored 174 from 360.

“Two states, Bihar and Meghalaya, recorded the lowest scores in the infrastructure and facilities domain. This is a cause for concern as a proper school building with adequate facilities is a must to improve the overall quality of school education," the PGI report said. Indicators such as availability of information and communication technology facilities and timely availability of textbooks and uniforms, which are critical inputs for better performance of students and mentioned in the Right to Education Act, are measured in the infrastructure and facilities domain.

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