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25% Students Leave Class VIII Without Basic Reading Skills

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Questioning the quality of education imparted in India, a report revealed that one out of every four students leaving Class VIII cannot read text of Class II level. Basic reading skills are found to be lacking in these children making it further difficult for them to decide on a career option.

Assessing the Indian education standards in quality and quantity, Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016 is compiled by Pratham NGO and was released on Wednesday in Mumbai. The 11th report is based on a survey of over 5.5 lakh children across 589 rural districts of India. A total of 15,630 government schools were visited as a part of this study. Of these 9,644 were primary schools and 5,986 were upper primary schools which also had primary sections.

The study came up with some startling & contradicting facts and some positive figures.

Reading Ability in Government Schools Over Private Ones

Nationally, reading levels in Class VIII show a slight decline since 2014 (from 74.7% to 73.1%). Then and now, three out of every four children enrolled in Class VIII can read at least Class II level (the highest level assessed in the ASER survey). The state-wise picture for Class VIII reading levels does not show much improvement except for government schools in Manipur, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Although not major, the hike in reading levels are credited to government schools

Overall reading levels in Class V are almost the same year on year from 2011 to 2016. However, the proportion of children in Class V who could read a Class II level text improved by over five percent from 2014 to 2016 Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tripura, Nagaland and Rajasthan. The proportion of children in Class III who are able to read at least Class I level text slightly increased from 40.2% in 2014 to 42.5% in 2016.

“This improvement is driven by gains in learning levels in government schools in these states,” the report read.

Enrolment

Enrolment of students for the age group 6-14 years in schools increased marginally from 96.7% in 2014 to 96.9% in 2016. It had been 96% or above since 2009. Enrolment for the age group 15-16 years has also improved for both boys and girls, rising from 83.4% in 2014 to 84.7% in 2016.

However, in some states, the fraction of out of school children (age 6-14) has increased between 2014 and 2016. These include Madhya Pradesh (from 3.4% to 4.4%), Chhattisgarh (from 2% to 2.8%), and Uttar Pradesh (from 4.9% to 5.3%). In some states, the proportion of out of school girls (age group 11-14) remains greater than eight percent. These states are Rajasthan (9.7%) and Uttar Pradesh (9.9%). Joining them in 2016 is Madhya Pradesh (8.5%).

Attendance

Trends over time show that children’s attendance in both primary and upper primary schools was higher in 2009 as compared to 2016. In 2009, attendance was at 74.3% in primary schools; the figure for 2016 is 71.4%. Similar data for upper primary schools shows a decline from 77% in 2009 to 73.2% in 2016.

Math, a problem for students

Although, there is a rise the figure for basic arithmetic learning in 2016, the levels are quite low. This is the first year since 2010, that there is an upward trend in arithmetic figures.

About 25.4% of Std III children could do a two-digit subtraction in 2014. This number has risen slightly to 27.7% in 2016. This improvement has come primarily from government schools where the percentage of Std III children who could do a two-digit subtraction increased from 17.2% in 2014 to 20.2% in 2016.

Only 26% students of Class V were able to do simple division problems. The ability to do division among Class VIII students continued to drop. This declining trend has been observed since 2010. The proportion of Class VIII students who could correctly do a three-digit by one-digit division problem was 68.4% in 2010. This number dropped to 44.2% in 2014, and has further declined to 43.3% in 2016.

School Amenities

For the most part, improvement in school facilities continues. Since 2010, there has been significant progress in the availability of useable toilets. Nationally in 2016, 68.7% of schools visited had toilet facilities that were useable as compared 47.2% in 2010. In 2016, only 3.5% of the schools visited had no toilet facility.

The proportion of schools visited where girls’ toilets were available and useable has gone up from 32.9% in 2010 to 55.7% in 2014 to 61.9% in 2016. Drinking water was available in 74.1% of the schools that were visited in 2016, down from 75.6% in 2014. In 2010, this figure was 72.7%.

There has been no change in the availability of computers in schools since 2014. The 2016 figure is 20% as compared to 19.6% in 2014. However, some states stand out in terms of high provision of computers. In Kerala, 89% of schools visited had computers; this number was 75.2% in Gujarat, 55.1% in Maharashtra and 57.3% in Tamil Nadu.

The proportion of schools with libraries has fallen from 78.1% in 2014 to 75.5% in 2016. However, children were seen using library books in more schools in 2016. In 42.6% of schools that were visited, children were seen using library books as compared to 40.7% in 2014.

The report poses some important questions and puts forth some suggestions to improve this scenario. “Arithmetic has been a problem for our students. We need to try different methods to bring about change and understand the effectiveness of these methods,” said Farida Lambay, Founder, Pratham.

Maharashtra’s education minister Vinod Tawde who was present at the launch event said, “Although, there is improvement in some sectors and Maharashtra has ranked the best in many areas, scope for further enhancement is huge. We need to synchronise efforts of different authorities and channelise them towards the common goal of improving our educational standard.”

The report brings forth the status of educational development in India, a sector which has been receiving the highest CSR funds. Inspite of the fact that there is a huge spend on Education and skill training programmes by the corporate citizens, there is a wide scope of contribution and involvement in the sector.

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Regards, 
The CSR Journal Team