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HindustanTimes Fri,11 Jul 2014

RTE: high attendance, low learning

Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 17, 2013
First Published: 22:37 IST(17/1/2013) | Last Updated: 00:43 IST(18/1/2013)

The Right to Education Act has improved the facilities and brought more kids to the school but has failed to make them teach right, says the Annual Status of (Rural) Education Report.
 
96.5% of children in the 6-14 age group were enrolled in schools in 2012, the survey in 567 rural districts shows, continuing the trend of over 96% enrolment since 2009.
 
And the school facilities, whose absence often obstructs schooling, also improved. More schools, in comparison with earlier years, have mid-day meal amenities, drinking water, useable toilets including those for girls.
 
Many schools, meeting the RTE norms that came into effect from 2010, also acquired better library facilities and books. However at the same time, quality of learning declined.
 
Compared to 54% of Standard V children who were able to read a Standard II text in 2012, only 47% kids can read the text in 2012. The decline is steep in State schools.
 
In 2010, seven out of 10 of Standard V kids were able to solve a simple two-digit subtraction with borrowing. Only five out of 10 kids can accomplish the task in 2012.
 
The declining trend in reading and math levels observed for the first time in 2011 was strengthened with the 2012 data, ASER points stating its as “an alarming degeneration.”
 
“Funding for school education increased ten fold since 2004. But the negative trend shows that the government measures are not working or working to the opposite effect,” said Madhav Chavan, CEO-President, Pratham, an education foundation bringing the report since 2005.
 
“The findings are dismaying. States should ensure qualitative education. There is a need to collaborate with States to achieve good standards,” M M Pallam Raju, HRD minister said.
 
ASER somewhat attributes the decline to relaxation in classroom teaching and scrapping of exams and assessments. “Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation is now part of the Law and states are attempting to implement CCE as they understand it.”
 
State of Education
 
2012 recorded a slight increase in out of the school children (6-14 years) – from 3.3% in 2011 to 3.5% in 2012, with 11-14 age girls accounting more for the discrepancy.
 
Private education has risen in the 6-14 age group from 18.7% in 2006 to 28.3% in 2012.
 
About a quarter of elementary school kids in rural areas take private tuitions.

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