Learning Poverty Report, recently released by the World Bank has estimated that about 53 per cent of children in low and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple story by the end of primary school. It has set a new learning target which aims to cut at least half the global rate of Learning poverty by 2030.
Learning Poverty is defined as the percentage of ten-year-olds, who cannot read and understand a simple story. According to the Annual Status of Education Report 2018, published by an education non-profit Pratham, about half (49.7%) of all the students of Class V cannot read the texts meant for Class II students.
It is very important to address this learning deficit as soon as possible because of the quality of the learning level bears directly on India’s future workforce, its competitiveness and the economy. India who has boasted about its young population can reap demographic dividend only if the learning level of students is improved.
Ending learning poverty has thus become of national importance. In order to achieve this, the report by World Bank has made the following recommendations.
Improving the quality of teachers
Teachers are facilitators of the first step towards learning for students. They play a very important role in the learning ability of a student. It is thus, very important to ensure that the quality of teachers is maintained. The report has suggested that in order to achieve this, the profession of teaching needs to be made attractive by improving its status, compensation policies and career progression structures. Apart from this, instead of promotion of teachers on the basis of seniority, merit-based promotions should be adopted. The teachers should also be provided with the required equipment to ensure that they are motivated and have everything they need to perform well in the class.
Role of Families and Communities
The report has recommended to family and other social institutions that they need to play an active role in building demand for education. They are also responsible for creating the right environment for learning and supporting the right education reforms.
Mother Tongue as Medium of Learning
Research has shown that children gain reading proficiency if they are taught in their mother tongue first. For this reason, the report has recommended the use of one’s home language as the medium of learning. It has asserted that students taught to read in a language they do not speak at home, face a lot of difficulty in learning.
Access to Material
Availability of age-appropriate and qualitative material plays a significant role in establishing strong early literacy. Children who lack access to books or exposure to printed or digital and written materials are more generally at a disadvantage as they try to learn to read. Availability of such material also facilitates the teachers and other guardians to inculcate reading habits in children from a young age.
Meeting Basic Needs
The first and foremost thing required to motivate children to learn is to ensure all of their basic needs are met. Thus, it is the job of government, corporates as well as the civil society to provide better water and sanitation, improved health and nutrition, better social protection for disadvantaged populations, civil service reforms, and strengthened management and financing of public services for all the students.
Assessment of a program’s performance is as important as its execution. This is the only way to know for sure if the efforts and the finances invested in the program are getting materialised. It also helps in pointing out any discrepancies in the project and tackling it efficiently.