Year 2012 was designated as the year of mathematics in India. However, children in Madhya Pradesh have turned poor in basic arithmetic last year.
In 2011, 44.7% children enrolled in Class 5 were able to solve simple two-digit subtraction problems. This proportion declined to one-third (34.1%) in 2012. These, and other similar findings, are the conclusion of Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2012), facilitated by NGO Pratham.
The report also states that private schools have spread in rural areas. In 2006 11.5% rural children went to private schools. This number has increased to 18.2% in 2012.
Enrollment levels for the age group 6-14 were found to be quite high in the state. In 2012, 96.9% of all children in this age group were enrolled in schools. Since 2006 enrollment levels have been higher than 96%. In 2012, more than 75% of the children in this age group are enrolled in government schools. Despite high enrollment figures, the attendance of children in government schools remains low. On average, only 60% of the enrolled children were found present in primary schools during the survey. This is much lower than the national average of 71%.
According to the survey report, basic reading and arithmetic continues to be a cause of serious concern. Survey report maintains that 27.5% children in Class 5 were able to read a 'standard level-II text' in government schools. This figure for private schools stands at 64.5%.
"Children's ability to read simple text and do basic arithmetic has declined in the last few years. Despite the implementation of the RTE Act (right to education Act) and greater efforts being made to improve facilities in schools, most children in school today are at least three grade levels behind where they should be. Learning deficits from primary school influences outcomes at the secondary school level too," said Gajanan Sarode, head of MP operations of ASER.
Corresponding to the national trend the proportion of small schools is rising in Madhya Pradesh, says the report. A total of 1,211 schools were visited in Madhya Pradesh during ASER 2012. The report states that the proportion of government primary schools with enrollment of 60 or fewer students has increased from 18.1% in 2009 to 26.1% in 2012.
The proportion of children in primary grades who sit in multi-grade classrooms is also high. For Class 2, this number has gone up from 68.9% in 2009 to 76.1% in 2012 and for Class 4, it is 67% in 2012.
Since the implementation of the RTE Act in 2010, school visits in ASER have included indicators of compliance with norms and standards specified in the RTE Act that are easy to measure. In 2012, ASER visited more than 1,200 government schools in the state.
Based on RTE norms, the pupil teacher ratio (PTR) has shown improvement over the time. In 2010, 19.4% schools met the PTR norms, which improved to 32.9% in 2012. School facilities in Madhya Pradesh have not improved much over time. In 2012, 70.5% of all schools visited had drinking water available. In 2012, less than half (46.7%) of all schools visited were found to have useable toilets. Only 65% of schools visited had separate provision for girls' toilets. The midday meal was observed being served in 90% of the schools that were visited.