Ringing the alarm bell, a study says reading and learning outcomes in schools in rural India continue to remain low, with most children in lower classes unable to do simple mathematics or read a sentence in English. It said only 25 percent of children enrolled in Class-V could read simple English sentences and around 26 percent of Class-III students could do a two-digit subtraction.
The Annual Status of Education Report-2014 by non-governmental organisation Pratham, widely followed by policymakers and educationists, covered 15,000 government schools, of which 8,844 were primary schools and 6,362 were upper primary.
Lack of flexibility in the system to help children catch up with others and mismatch between the syllabus and the children’s ability to learn were attributed as some of the plausible factors for the learning level by the Director of Pratham, Rukmini Banerji. The report said the percentage of children in Class-II who still cannot recognise numbers up to nine had increased from 11.3 percent in 2009 to 19.5 percent in 2014.
Similarly, the ability to do division among Class-VIII students has been dropping since 2010. The proportion of Class-VIII students who could correctly do a three-digit by one digit division problem was 68.3 percent in 2010 and the number dropped to 44.1 percent in 2014. It said except Tamil Nadu, where there are some improvements in learning outcome in maths, a poor learning outcome is prevalent in most other states. It said children’s ability to read English is relatively unchanged in lower primary grades. In 2014, 25 percent of children enrolled in Class-V could read simple English sentences and this number is virtually unchanged since 2009.
The report, however, said enrolment has increased over the years and reached 96 percent or higher in the six-14 age group. "India is close to universal enrollment for the age group of six-14 years, with the percentage of children enrolled at 96 percent or above for six years in a row," it said. The report highlighted the increased inclination towards private schools in rural India with the figure standing at 30.8 percent enrollment of six-14 age group. This number is slightly up from the 29 percent in 2013.