The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2010 which was released here praised Bihar for its student enrolment. "Bihar's performance has been commendable", the report said, The percentage of out-of-school boys and girls in the state has been declining since 2005.
In 2006, 12.3 percent boys and 17.6 percent girls in the age group of 11-14 were out of school. But the number came down sharply. By 2010, the number dipped to 4.4 percent for boys and 4.6 percent for girls in Bihar.
Conducted every year since 2005, ASER is facilitated by the NGO Pratham and is an annual survey of children in rural India. The report was released by Vice President Hamid Ansari in the capital.
Among its key findings, 5.9 percent girls in the age group of 11-14 were out of school in 2010 nationwide. This percentage has come down compared to 6.8 percent in 2009.
It also found an increase in the enrolment of five year olds in school. It increased from 54.9 percent in 2009 to 62.8 percent in 2010.
There has also been an increase in enrolment in private schools - from 21.8 percent in 2009 to 24.3 percent in 2010.
However, as far as the quality of education is concerned, reading and math ability of children have hardly shown any improvement.The report said: “Even after five years in school, close to half of all children are not even at the level expected of them after two years in school. Only 53.4 percent children in Class 5 could read a Class 2 level text.”
Similarly, on average there has been a decrease in children's ability to do simple maths. The proportion of Class 1 children who could recognise numbers from 1-9 declined from 69.3 percent in 2009 to 65.8 percent in 2010.
The report also found that over 60 percent of 13,000 schools visited had satisfying infrastructure as specified by the Right to Education Act.
“For rural India as a whole, children's attendance shows no change over the period 2007-2010. Attendance remained at around 73 percent during this period. But there is considerable variation across states,” it said.
Reacting to the report's findings, Shireen Miller of the NGO Save the Children, said: “The ASER report clearly shows that despite huge investments in education, the quality of education has not improved over the years."
"The focus is still on enrolment, not retention and quality learning. This is the sorry state of education in India. No number of ASER reports can make a difference without policy backing to improve the quality of education. It is not enough for a child to merely go to school, she must also learn," she added.