More poor children in Indian schools, but 30% suffer from malnutrition


  • 97% of 12-year-olds were enrolled in primary school in 2013; compared to 89% in 2006.
  • Almost a third of children continue to show signs of malnutrition by the age of 12 with high rates for economically and socially marginalized children and those in rural areas.
  • 49% of older children were still in school by the age of 19; 9% had not yet completed high school, 8% had moved on to vocational or post-secondary education, and one-third had started university.

These are some of the results of a pilot study in the state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by Young lives, an international study on child poverty involving 12,000 children in four countries over 15 years.

The report shows positive trends in schooling and certain indicators such as access to drinking water. However, nutrition and sanitation, especially in villages, continue to be poor. In addition, the situation of young people, especially young women, has not improved much.

The study published preliminary data in three aspects: education, health and development.

Education and learning

While a significant improvement was noted in the enrollment of 12-year-old students by the Young lives to study, IndiaSpend at reported a significant drop in upper secondary enrollment in India.

Percentage of 12-year-olds in school
Year Genre The child’s ethnicity or caste
Man Female Scheduled casts Scheduled tribes Backward class Other castes
2006 91.2 87.3 85.3 86.8 88.4 96.1
2013 97.3 96.6 97.2 96.1 96.4 98.7

Source: Young lives to study

the Young lives The study also found that considerable progress had been made in addressing inequalities in enrollment in recent years, particularly the gender gap, where the enrollment of boys and girls was almost equal to to a difference of 4 percentage points in 2006.

However, inequalities related to the segregation of the poorest children in public schools and declining learning levels in private and public schools persist.

There are worrying signs with the study showing a decline in learning levels since 2006, with only half of children able to answer math questions correctly, compared to two-thirds of children in 2006.

Nutrition and health

Stunting in children due to malnutrition has not changed much – there has been an improvement of just 4 percentage points in 8 years, according to data from the Young lives to study.

Health indicators and access to water and sanitation
Year Percentage of 12-year-olds with stunted growth Percentage of universal access to drinking water Percentage of children with access to sanitation
Urban Rural
2006 34 84 92 16
2013 30 99 93 21

Source: Young lives to study

Socially marginalized groups and the poorest households must be targeted in efforts to reduce malnutrition, according to this study, more than a third of children from castes, tribes and other backward castes are lean compared to a quarter of children. from other castes.

IndiaSpend also reported how malnutrition proves fatal for children across the country; about 56 out of 1,000 children under the age of five died in India in 2012 due to malnutrition, according to Global Nutrition Reporting.

Youth and development

The study reported how children from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds were the most likely to have left school, many without obtaining a high school certificate.

Percentage of 19-year-olds
Genre Only study Works only Study + work Married, do not study or work Not to study, work or be married
Man 34 40 23 0 3
Female 34 32 8 17 ten

Source: Young lives to study

51.5% of the total 19-year-old cohort had left school, with only 15.8% reaching secondary education.

Many young people from marginalized groups had already started working full time, mostly self-employed or salaried in agriculture, without further training or professional qualification.

India Expenditures previous reports have shown how young people are affected by levels of education and skills.

Percentage of newlyweds aged 19
Place of residence Terciles / third of the wealth index
Urban Rural First third Lower third
14 21 12 23

Source: Young lives to study

While 36% of girls were married by the age of 19, according to the study, only 2% of boys were married at that age.

Although the legal age of marriage is 18, 37% of girls were married by 19 (an average age of 16.6, below the legal age). And 108 of them, from the selected cohort, already have a child (almost two-thirds of married girls).

Education and maternal health are wronged if the girls get married early.

Follow 3,000 young people: the Young lives to study

Young lives follows the lives of 3,000 children and youth and their families living in 20 communities in six districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The children in the study come from two age groups: 2,000 children born in 2001-02 (the youngest cohort) and 1,000 children born in 1994-95 (the oldest cohort). The entire sample is a pro-poor sample, made up of children from poor families.

The longitudinal nature of the study (i.e. spanning a long period of time) provides opportunities to better understand the transitions between the different stages of childhood.

In the case of the older cohort, the round 4 survey (2013-14) even provides insight into their transition to adulthood when some have become parents themselves.

Parallel studies were carried out in Ethiopia, Peru and Vietnam with 3,000 children / households per Young lives.

These four countries, including India, were chosen for their cultural and socio-economic diversity.

The central objective of the Young lives The study is to examine the causes and consequences of child poverty in order to build better social policy alternatives for these children.

While the final report of this study is still awaited, preliminary data showed mixed results in terms of improving the socio-economic well-being of the children in the Indian sample.

Previous Indian schools now have an equal ratio of girls and boys
Next Beating for asking for help: corporal punishment in Indian schools | Transform institutions