Thursday, May 30, 2013

CSO working on Index of Education Services to track its growth

As part of an initiative to create a services production database in the country, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) is working on the Index of Education Services to track its growth. The segment contributes about 4% to the gross domestic product (GDP).

The index will throw some light on enrolments at different levels of education: primary, secondary and tertiary, vocational courses and separately for government, public and private institutes. Weights will be assigned according to enrolments in the base year in each of the segments.

As part of the Index of Services Production, CSO has fragmented different services as separate indexes, such as railways, air transport, postal, banking & telecommunication and has already released an experimental air transport and railways index.

For the education services index, the committee is examining various ways to measure productivity, in terms of enrolment and expenditure. Though enrolments are still collected using the net enrollment ratio for the millennium development goals, the index will go further. "The index will be able to track the impact of frequent changes in the education system, such as scrapping of board exams or increasing number of year to four for undergraduate courses," said a CSO official.

The index will also track changes taking place on a short-term basis in different parts of the country. The index is expected to be finalised in the next six months. It will be released on an annual basis, unlike indexes for railways, banking and postal, which will see a quarterly release. Since enrollments occur once in an academic year, it wouldn't make sense to release it monthly or quarterly, said a CSO official. Different sectors have different periodicities.

Given the gaps in services-related data, CSO will use data collected from major institutes only for the time being, including IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) etc. Affiliation bodies like University Grants Commission (UGC) will also be asked for data. "Data from bigger institutes will be sufficient to track short-term movements," the official added.

Services sector contributes about 60% to India's overall GDP, but does not have a comprehensive database on production. Government is also working on an annual survey of services along the lines of annual survey of industries, which aims to provide turnovers and employment numbers.

As of today, only the HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for services gives an indication of the services sector on a monthly basis while the GDP covers some sectors on a quarterly basis. Data collection in the vast services sector is a major concern since most of it is informal.

Source: The Economic Times, May 30, 2013

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