RTE unable to stem learning rot among tots: Survey

Learning level of elementary school students deteriorated
Last Updated : 17 January 2013, 19:16 IST

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Notwithstanding the Right to Education Act being in force since 2010, the learning level of elementary school students have deteriorated further in rural India when it comes to reading simple text and doing basic mathematics, according to a survey conducted by Pratham, an NGO.

“Learning outcomes were low, but steady, in the years leading to 2010. But, across the country, children’s ability to read simple text and do basic arithmetic has declined since then,” noted the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), released by Human Resource Development Minister M M Pallam Raju here on Thursday.

Although, compliance with the norms and standards specified by the RTE Act has improved since 2010, most children in school today are “at least three grade levels behind where they should be,” it added.

In 2010, 46.3 per cent of all schoolchildren in Standard-V could not read Standard II level text. This proportion increased to 51.8 per cent in 2011 and further to 53.2 per cent in 2012. In case of children enrolled in government schools, the percentage of those unable to read standard-II level text increased from 56.2 per cent in 2011 to 58.3 per cent in 2012, the report noted. The major decline in reading levels among Standard-V students between 2011 and 2012 was seen in Haryana, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala.

Even in private schools in Maharashtra and Kerala, with a large proportion of aided schools, students showed a decline in reading ability. The percentage of all school children enrolled in Standard-III, who could not read a Standard-I text during the survey, has increased steadily from 53.4 per cent in 2009 to 61.3 per cent in 2012. In cases of children enrolled in government schools too, the survey noted steady increase in the figure from 57.6 per cent in 2010 to 67.7 per cent in 2012.

State of affairs

“In 2010, of all the school children enrolled in Standard-V, 29.1 per cent could not solve simple two-digit subtraction problems with borrowing. This proportion increased to 39 per cent in 201 and further 46.5 per cent in 2012,” the survey noted.

Barring Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, every major state showed signs of a “substantial drop” in arithmetic learning levels.

Comparing the cohort of Standard-V children in government schools in 2011 with that of in 2012, the survey noted that there was evidence of a more than 10 per cent point drop in the ability to do basic subtraction in almost all states.

“Exceptions are Bihar, Assam and Tamil Nadu where the drop is less; and Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala where there has been either improvement or no change from 2011,” it added.

Two years ago, about two-thirds of all the schoolchildren studying in Standard-V were found unable to do simple division in mathematics. “In 2012, this number is close to three-fourths,” the report said.

The survey also observed consistent rise in the private school enrollment in the rural India at an annual rate of 10 per cent since 2006. “If this trend continues, India will have 50 per cent children in rural areas enrolled in private schools by 2018,” the report said.

Published 17 January 2013, 19:16 IST

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