Himachal Pradesh leads Indian states in Education

Himachal Pradesh, once a backward hill state, came into its own after parts of erstwhile Punjab were included in it in the mid-1960s, is now vying with-on some parameters even beating-advanced and geographically advantageous states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, says an India Today report.

Top of the Chart

Himachal, in the past five years, has opened 193 primary schools, upgraded 1,097 government schools (higher to senior secondary level), started vocational education in 873 secondary schools, opened 65 degree colleges and set up several national-level institutions, such as the Indian Institute of IT, a national law university, a central university and an Indian Institute of Management. The state also added three medical colleges – in Chamba, Nahan and Mandi – three engineering colleges, a pharmacy college, five polytechnics and 40 new ITIs.

The Chief Minister of Himachal, Virbhadra Singh is particularly proud of the strides in education. “We have achieved a significant shift in education, both in qualitative and quantitative terms,” he says, pointing to major infrastructural improvements in educational institutions and the long overdue recruitment of thousands of trained teachers.

Systemic Reforms

Ghanshyam Chand, the state’s project director for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, says the real educational success is “the enhancement of learning outcomes of students of elementary classes (I to VIII) by 15-30% in the academic year 2016-2017”. Much of this is because of systemic reforms, such as e-review and e-monitoring, online school development plan, e-tracking of delivery of textbooks in schools in the state’s remotest parts, and digitisation of scholastic assessment at the elementary level. All this was achieved by increasing the expenditure on education-from Rs 3,773 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 5,824 crore in 2016-17.

Achievements Galore

Besides education and infrastructure, in which HP has recorded the best performance over the past twelve months, the state has done exceedingly well in seven of the eleven categories included in the India Today State of the States report. Marginally behind Maharashtra in ‘Health’, HP is also a close second to winner Kerala in ‘Governance’. It has notched the third place in ‘Tourism’, the fifth-ranking for ‘Economy’ and the sixth position for ‘Entrepreneurship’.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure, particularly improved road connectivity, is the other big success of the State, whose impressive performance in building, improving and maintaining roads has been acknowledged by the Union Government as well. For surpassing by over 359 km its target of constructing 500 km of roads to connect 120 rural habitations in 2016-17 under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Himachal was awarded a performance incentive of Rs 86 crore. The demonstrated capacity to build roads in some of the most hostile mountain terrains has prompted the Centre to raise Himachal’s PMGSY target for 2017-18 to 1,700 km, added the report.

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