Status Report on SDG: Improved Health Quality & Unchanged Quality of Education for Indian States

The NITI Aayog published the status report on Sustainable Development Goals -2019 on 27th December, 2019. United Nations in 2015 has set up 17 sustainable development goals for countries like India. NITI Aayog started publishing a status on 13 of these 17 sustainable goals since 2018. The first such report was published in December, 2018. The report published in 2019 therefore not only talks about the status in terms of the SDG, but also provides a comparison of the situation with respect to 2018. In this article IPD focuses on the performance for SDG 3 and SDG 4

SDG Goal 3: Good Health & Well Being’ index is measured using five themes: (a) reducing the maternity mortality ration (b) reducing mortality for kids with below 5 age (c) addressing the burden of communicable diseases (d) adopting a focused approach for non communicable diseases and (e) ensuring universal health coverage. The measure is calculated for the all India level as well for the state level separately. ‘SDG Goal 4: Quality Education’ index comprises of 5 themes – (a) free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education (b) access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education (c) accessible, affordable and quality higher education (d) skill development and economic growth and (e) conducive education facilities that are child disabled and gender sensitive. Higher the value of the index better is the performance for both SDG 3 and SDG 4.

Source: NITI Aayog

In terms of the SDG 3 index on health, there has been an improvement in the performance at an all India level with the index value showing a 9 point increasein 2019 as compared to 2018. In terms of SDG 4 index on education, there is no change in the index value at an all India level in 2019 and 2018.

Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are the top performing states in terms of health index while Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam are the bottom ranked states. In terms of improvement of index in 2019 as compared to 2018, it has been seen apart from 3 states, all the other states have shown considerable improvement. There has been considerable improvement for the low ranked states. The decline in index value is noted for few of the high ranked states, the major being the top ranked state of Kerala. However Kerala still has a very high value.

Source: Union Budget * Revised Estimates

It has been the actual expenditure on health has been more than that the budgetary estimates and there is a slight increase in the percentage of total budget spend on health over the years. This definitely has its impact on the improved performance not only at the national level with the increase in the overall index value but also with the improvement in index value of almost all the states with the lower ranked states showing considerable improvement.

Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the top three ranked states in terms of SDG 4: ‘quality of education’ while Bihar, Odhisa and Jharkhand are the three bottom ranked states in 2019. In terms of change in performance with respect to 2018, it is seen that apart from 3 states ( Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana), all the other states has shown a decline in the index in 2019 as compared to the last year. Moreover, the low ranked states also witness a significant decline in the performance in 2019 as compared to 2018. The decline in the performance in low ranked states has been severe.

Source: Union Budgets, *Revised Estimates

In terms of education however there has been a steady decline in the percentage of total budget spend on education both in terms of budgetary estimates and actual estimates. Moreover the government was not able to spend the whole amount allocated as the actual estimates have been lower than the budgetary estimates with the exception of 2018-19 where for the first time both the estimates are similar. This decline in education share has its impact on the performance of the education index, it being showing no improvement. Moreover seventeen of the 20 major states has witnessed a significant decline in the performance in terms of the education states. The more important is the fact that the decline is severe in the low ranked states.

So what we have seen is that the trends in budgetary expenditure estimates on health and education has a significant impact in the performance of the SDG indices, With more share being spent on health then the budgetary estimate, we see an improvement in the Good Health & Well Being index. But with a steady decline in the share of total budget spent on education, we see no improvement in the Quality of Education index with over eighty percent of the major states showing a decline in performance.

IPD sincerely hopes that in the upcoming budget, we will see more focus given to education with the continued focus on health.

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