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Most Literate = Most Skilled?

 Most Literate = Most Skilled?

Most Literate = Most Skilled?

By Admin / Mar 04, 2020

Times of India dated May 1, 2019 pointed out that in the then recently released JEE results, only 14 students from Kerala figured in top 1,000 and only 24 in top 10,000. The topper from Kerala was ranked 35 nationally. Combine it with the fact that states like Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana dominate the list; one is left wondering if literacy rate has any bearing in the competitive skills of the students.

This is what prompted two researchers, Nishchay Wadhera and Manmeet Singh, Data Science interns at TCY, and representing BML Munjal University and PCTE respectively, to find if there was any correlation between the literacy rate of a state and the cognitive skills required for their students to excel in top competitive exams in the country. They were guided in this study by Viji Raj from TCY Academic Research and Data Science team.

It is often argued that basic literacy rate is just a threshold figure and cannot indicate educational attainment and success of a state, particularly in higher education. Let us take a look at the basics first. Literacy Rate is the total number of literate persons in a given age group expressed as a percentage of the total population in that age group. Adult literacy rate measures literacy among persons aged 15 years and above. The states in India have widely divergent literacy levels. Whereas states like Kerala and Mizoram boast of a high literacy rate of 94% and 91.3% respectively, those like Bihar and Rajasthan have literacy rates as low as 61.8% and 66.1% respectively.

TCY test attempt database proved to be the ideal source for data required for this study as it contained significant data on skills from the length and breadth of the country. A database of approximately 150,000 students at TCY was used to calculate the net proficiency of students on a standardized scale for four major skills frequently tested in all competitive exams, i.e.Quantitative Aptitude, Reasoning Ability, Verbal Ability and General Awareness. The proficiency of students in a particular state was taken to be state-wise average score under the given skill area.

Pearson’s Correlation Index with literacy rate of the state was calculated for each skill: Quantitative Aptitude, Reasoning Ability, Verbal Ability and General Awareness, at a significance level of 95%.

Literacy v/s Quantitative Skills-Heat Map of India

Pearson Correlation Coefficient: -0.09508727 (Significant Correlation at 95% Confidence Level)

The quantitative skills show a Negative Correlation with literacy rate. A closer look reveals that this trend is more so in what used to be called BIMARU States, an acronym formed from the first letters of the names of the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.The literacy rates in these states according to the 2011 census are Bihar 63.8%, Rajasthan 67.1%, Jharkhand 67.6%, Madhya Pradesh 70.6% and Uttar Pradesh 71.7%, against a national average of 74.04%. Another significant observation here is that some of these states have shown some positive developments since the last census.

Is the establishment of a vibrant coaching centre eco system aimed mainly at engineering entrance in these states responsible for this Negative Correlation and the subsequent positive trend? We guess so.

Literacy v/s Reasoning Skills- Heat map of India

Pearson Correlation Coefficient: 0.04489987 (Weak Correlation at 95% Confidence Level)

In reasoning skills, again the BIMARU states are showing an inverse relation resulting in a very weak correlation, because here many other states show a direct trend.

Literacy v/s Verbal Skills- Heat map of India

 Pearson Correlation Coefficient:0.2579621(Weak Correlation at 95% Confidence Level)

This result is on expected lines with the only surprise thrown in by Rajasthan, which shows a decent level of verbal skills.

Overall Kerala, West Bengal, Mizoram and Uttarakhand are showing consistent level of skills commensurate to their high literacy rate, but there are some states like Maharashtra, Tamilnadu & Karnataka which though enjoying high literacy rates don’t figure so high on the skills. So the trend is mixed and no clear-cut correlation emerges pointing out that there may be other socio-economic factors at play that are significantly affecting the outcome.

The researchers feel that more research done at a district level may perhaps help identify the trend better. Researchers who would like to go deeper are welcome.


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Last updated on : Sep 22, 2023