Crisis looming? Literacy up, but steep fall in quality of education

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 28, 2015 01:05 IST

India may have achieved a literacy rate of 73% according to Census 2011, but the economic survey has flagged worrying issues: how about 100 million young people have slipped through the cracks missing the benefits of legislations like the Right to Education Act and Juvenile Justice Act, and how the low quality of education may end up creating a large pool of unskilled workers.

The survey says that while the two acts were supposed to bring children into the fold of education rather than employment, the 100 million young people who fall in this category may fall through the cracks.

“Since there are educational and age requirements for entry into most vocational skill programmes and job placements are not possible before age 18, the vast majority of this population could land up in the unorganised sector.”

But a key concern of the survey is the quality. It cites the Programme for International Student Assessment 2009+ results, which ranked Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh at 72 and 73 out of 74 participants — higher only than Kyrgyzstan. This assessment measures the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds with questions that assess their problem-solving capabilities.

It has also cited the Annual Status of Education Report 2014 to show that learning levels across the country, be it in public or private schools, have not improved. Enrolment has gone up in private schools. But on standards, there is only a marginal improvement in basic reading levels. There is a decline in arithmetic levels, with only 23.5% of class 3 students being able to solve simple two-digit subtraction problems. There is also a decline in student attendance.

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