Nelson Mandela once said, ‘education is a powerful weapon which can be used to change the world’. Education is indeed a powerful tool which can do wonders for a child, a family and the nation. Following the path, India has been taking great strides in the field of education. According to the 2016 report ‘Educational Statistics at a Glance’, by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India; the adult literacy rate reached 69.3 per cent in 2011 from 61 per cent in 2001. According to the report, the male literacy increased from 73.4 per cent to 78.8 per cent, while the female literacy increased from 47.8 per cent to 59.3 per cent during 2001-2011 respectively (MHRD, 2016). The silver lining of the report is that the increase in female literacy rate was higher than males, narrowing the gender gap.
Education is one of the prominent factors which empower females and creates an ecosystem of gender equality. The Gender Parity Index (GPI) is the ratio of the number of female students enrolled at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education to the corresponding number of male student in each level. Below is the trend in GPI from 2010-11 to 2014-15.
As we can deduce from the graph, the GPI has increased substantially in the past few years, a good sign in the respect of gender equality. From 0.41 in 1950-52 for primary schools, the GPI increased to 1.0 in 2009-10 and stood at 1.03 in 2014-15. Similar trends can be witnessed in secondary and higher education. Currently, the enrolment is favourable to females in elementary and secondary education as the respective GPI has crossed the threshold of 1 (MHRD,2016).
The number of educational institutions in India has also increased steadily over the past years. From 254 universities in 2000-01, the country had 760 universities in 2014-15. During the same period, the number of primary schools increased from 638,738 to 847,118, the number of higher secondary schools increased from 87,675 to 135,335 and the number of higher education institutes increased from 10,406 to 51,534. The state of Uttar Pradesh had 255,969 schools in the year 2015-16, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 150,762 and Rajasthan at 108,428 (MSPI, 2016).
While the number of schools and students witness a gradual rise, it brings forth a challenge for the government, the challenge of constantly growing and changing data. This data needs to be collected, stored and analysed to make decisions and form policies for the betterment of the education ecosystem. To handle the data efficiently, space technology has been introduced in the education sector by using a Geographical Information System (GIS). A Geographical Information System (GIS) is used to record, store, edit, analyse and display spatial data. It performs as a tool to analyse spatial data and assists as a decision support systems for organizations.
Natural Resource Data Management System (NRDMS), under Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India has employed space technology in education in the Almora district of Uttarakhand and Gulbarga district in Karnataka. Using this technology, NRDMS created synoptic spatial distributions using multiple constraints. Some of the maps are given below:
As we can see, synoptic maps can be generated with multiple constraints to perform in-depth analysis. For example, using these maps, NRDMS can analyse the areas which have a high number of schools without a playground efficiently and swiftly. These maps can also come in handy when creating new educational institutions. Similarly, multiple parameters can be analysed using these maps which can help in framing policies and decisions in both old and new institutions. NRDMS has opened up new avenues in education by creating a geo-spatial environment. NRDMS is simultaneously acting as a database for spatial information and a decision support system for policy framing. While India takes giant strides in the field of education, NRDMS is keeping pace with innovative geospatial applications.
NRDMS, under Department of Science & Technology, Government of India is constantly working towards employing ‘Geo-Spatial applications for good Governance’. Mapping in the field of education is one of the countless projects NRDMS has initiated to act as a decision support system for good governance all around the country. To develop GIS as per needs of the local level planning, the Council initiated the Karnataka Natural Resources Data Management System (NRDMS) program in 1992, while a district level NRDMS Centre at Almora was setup in 2003 in the Department of Geography, Kumaun University SSJ Campus Almora, with support from Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.