First, some interesting statistics:
- Total number of students taking the exam is 4,95,016, with 2,07,019 (42 percent) girls and 2,77,289 (58 percent) boys.
- As already noted here, 514 students had an aggregate score of 95 percent and above. This 'super-elite' group has 282 girls (55 percent) and 232 boys (45 percent).
- The 'elite' group -- those with 90+ percent aggregate -- has 8120 students, with girls enjoying a 52 to 48 percent advantage over boys.
- In the Delhi region, 160,484 students took the Class XII exam this year, and 131,484 (81.93 per cent) of them passed it. Accounting for 32.5 percent of the candidates taking the exam, this region seems to be the largest of CBSE's six regions -- the others being Chennai, Ajmer, Guwahati, Panchkula and Allahabad.
- Some 8.7 percent of the exam takers are from the Chennai region (which has Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, Pondichery, Andaman and Nicobar Islands). Of the 42,823 students from this region, 91.4 percent passed, placing it at the top. With just 62 percent of its students passing the exam, Guwahati region is at the bottom.
- More interestingly, the Chennai region accounts for a whopping 57 percent (289 out of 514) of the super-elite group!
- Among different types of schools, the Kendriya Vidyalayas have the best record: 93 percent of their students passed the exam. They are followed by Jawahar Navodaya (90 percent) Central Tibetan Schools (86 percent), independent private schools (82 percent) and other government schools (79 percent).
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The news about Kendriya Vidyalayas topping the charts is very interesting. They are fully funded by the Central Government, whose employees get preferential allotment for their children in these schools. This mechanism ensures that their children's education can go on un-interrupted even when they get transferred in the middle of the academic year. In a way, this may be seen as the bureaucrats' desire (and ability!) to take good care of themselves.
Unlike the other government-run schools which are plagued by teacher absenteeism and lack of facilities -- we are talking about basic infrastructure such as classrooms and blackboards! -- Kendriya Vidyalayas have good facilities, well-paid teachers and a good management that has a lot of respect for its stake-holders: the bureaucrats. KVs show us what is possible when the government shows a lot of interest in running them well, and in funding them adequately.
A lot of people have been clamoring for getting the government out of school education. Their primary argument is that the government is just incapable of doing a good job of it. Kendriya Vidyalayas offer us a great way to counter these critics. Unlike private schools, KVs have an admission policy that's not skewed in favour of the rich -- children of government employees get preference, irrespective of the income level of their parents. Having said that, they have not been created for the poor either! At present, they graduate less than 100,000 students; their website claims that they have nearly a million students on roll, and nearly 40,000 teachers.
I don't know the per-student cost of KVs; but I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't two or three times the cost at other government schools. So, universalizing the KV model would require a far greater financial commitment from our government -- a commitment that it has been unwilling to make so far.
But the key message is this: KVs show us that excellence in education and government ownership can co-exist.