One in every five or nearly 20% Class 2 students cannot identify numbers up to 9 while half the students in Class 5 cannot read a text prescribed for Class 2. The worrying indicators of poor learning levels in the country were published in NGO Pratham’s 10th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) in Delhi on Thursday.According to the report, mathematical ability in general has declined across the country, with Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh being the only exceptions. The numbers this year have gone up since 2009 when 11.3% students were unable to recognize numbers, the report, which covers both government and private schools, added.
While 51.9% students in class 5 lacked fluency in reading simple text, the numbers showed a slight improvement over the figures in 2012 (53.2%) and 2013 (53%). "In 2014, in class 3, only a fourth of all children can read a class 2 text fluently. This number rises to just under half in class 5. Even in class 8, close to 75% children can read class 2 level text," the report said.
The ability to read English showed a decline. Just 46.8% of class 8 students could read simple sentences in English in 2014, a decline from 60% in 2009. The percentage of lower primary grade students who could read English remained 25%. The data casts a shadow on the near universal enrollment in ages 6 to 14 for the sixth year in a row.
In state-wise observations, the report said nearly 12% girls between ages 11 and 14 in Rajasthan were not enrolled while the proportion was 9.2% for Uttar Pradesh. Pointing out to student absenteeism, the report said nearly 72% students enrolled in primary schools and 71.1% in upper primary schools were present on the day of the visit.
Student-teacher ratios, however, are improving, the report added. "The percentage of schools complying with RTE-mandated pupil-teacher ratios has increased from 45.3% in 2013 to 49.3% in 2014. In 2010, this figure was 38.9%."
Gujarat scores low in English, Maths
According to a supplement of the report, Gujarat and Maharashtra lag far behind the national average in terms of English and Maths learning. Just 9.7% of class 5 students in Gujarat and Maharashtra could read sentences in English with Maharashtra sailing in the same boat, the Trends over Time report 2014 said.
The percentage of class 3 children in Gujarat who could do subtraction and class 5 students who could do division was at least 10 percentage points below the national average. Maharashtra fell behind by 7–8 percentage points.