Well, Arunachal Pradesh it seems, atleast when it comes to engineers. The table below lists the states (and some UTs) along with the number of students per million population of the state that cleared the AIEEE,
State/UT Number of students per million population that cleared the AIEEE
Andaman & Nicobar 726
Arunanchal Pradesh 556
Himachal Pradesh 210
Andhra Pradesh 148
Jammu and Kashmir 96.4
Madhya Pradesh 82
Uttar Pradesh 80
West Bengal 46
Tamil Nadu 35
Jokes aside, what does this data mean ? The first thing to verify would of course be that this is indeed the case roughly every year. But assuming that it is, why are literate and ‘advanced’ states like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat at the bottom of the pile ? With Tamil Nadu, the presence of the state entrance exam, the TANCET does explain some of the discrepancy between perception and reality. But I think the real problem is that although TN has done a great job of buliding schools and enrolling students, the kids are not learning. The latest status of education in India report by the NGO Pratham indicates that only 62 % of the students have the number skills in grade 2 that they should, which is lower than the national average. Even though I would expect the data above to correlate more with learning at higher grade levels, I am sure that if kids are not learning in grade 2 then they arent in higher grades either.
Also surprising is Karnataka’s number, but again the Karnataka CET can explain some of it. Bihar doesnt do very well, but the Pratham report says that the state has done a great job of improving both access and the quality of education in the past 3 years. One can expect this number to go up in the years to come. Two other strange states are Mizoram and Nagaland. They do much worse than their other NE counterparts (who are among the top performers), inspite of being the most literate states in the entire country. Why this is, is beyond me.
Rajasthan and AP are the best performing ‘large’ states. Rajasthan is another state that has invested heavily in education in the past few years. I was a bit surprised to find Haryana at they very top, but it might be a fluke. The top performers are the hill states like Himachal and Sikkim, this is in keeping with the general better governance in those states.
One thing is clear, smaller states do better. It seems the smaller size ensures better governance, especially in matters of education. But this does not mean that states be split up, only that state governments decentralize their control over education to districts and municipal bodies.