New Delhi: the Indian education system has a lot to answer for. Learning levels have improved “slightly” in primary classes in schools across rural India and not in upper primary classes. About 50% Class 5 students are unable to read texts meant for junior classes, an Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has said.
Nationally, the proportion of students in Class 3 who can read at least Class 1 text has gone up to 42.5% in 2016 from 40.2% recorded two years ago.
Reading levels for Class 5, measured by the ability to read Class 2 level text, has dipped from 48% in 2014 to 47.8% in 2016. Similarly, only about 73.1% of Class 8 students can read Class 2 level text as compared to 74.7% in 2014. This means at primary level over 50% students cannot read texts meant for students three years junior.
This is the 11th ASER report by education non-profit Pratham conducted across 589 districts in India. The last report was published in 2014.
However, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharasthra and Telangana have shown improvement of 7 percentage points since 2014 for reading levels of Class 3 students.
Similarly for Class 5, reading ability has improved by 5 percentage points from 2014 to 2016 in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tripura, Nagaland and Rajasthan.
“This improvement in early classes in government schools can be credited to various schemes focusing on primary education. But at upper primary level the results will take time to show,” said Ranajit Bhattacharyya of Pratham.
Although low, there is slight improvement - from 25.4% in 2014 to 27.7% - in the number of Class 3 students who can do subtraction. Similarly, only 26% of Class 5 students and 43.3% of Class 8 can do division.
“The proportion of Class 8 students who could correctly do a 3-digit by 1-digit division problem was 68.4% in 2010. This number has dropped to 44.2% in 2014 and 43.3% in 2016. Only children in Manipur, Karnataka and Telangana show an increase,” the report said.
Children’s ability to red English improved “slightly” improved in Class 3 but remained relatively unchanged in Class 5. “In 2016, 32% children in Class 3 could read simple words in English as compared to 28.5% in 2009.
Only 24.5% of children in Class 5 could read simple English sentences. This number is virtually unchanged since 2009, the report said. The decline in upper primary classes, however, continues with only 45.2% of Class 8 students being able to read simple sentences in 2016 as compared to 46.7% in 2014 and 60.2% in 2009.
Availability of computers
There has been no change in the availability of computers in schools since 2014. In 2016 it was 20% as compared to 19.6% in 2014. However, some states stand out in terms of high provision of computers. In Kerala, 89% schools visited had computers while in Gujarat 75.2% schools had them and in Maharashtra the figure was 55.1%.