Enrolment of children in schools in rural areas of UP is no longer a problem, but their attendance is a major issue that needs to be addressed.
Wilima Wadhwa, director ASER, revealed this while presenting the Annual Status of Education Report, 2016, before Alok Ranjan, chief advisor to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Alok Ranjan is also president of the Lucknow Management Association.
Since 2005, ASER has been conducting nationwide survey of students of government schools in rural areas to assess their ability to read simple text and do basic arithmetic. It is the largest household survey of children in the country.
Wadhwa revealed that UP government has succeeded in achieving the target of 95% enrolment of children in schools through its various programmes. But attendance of students is only 55%, a major issue that needs to be addressed, the report revealed.
Also, 9.9% girls were out of school (11-14 years) in UP in 2016 as compared to 9.2% in 2014.
For carrying out the survey, 30 villages are selected randomly in every district of UP and 20 households are randomly elected in each district. In these households, all children in the age of 3-16 years are assessed.
Interacting with HT, Wilima Wadhwa discussed the status of education in rural UP.
What is the reason behind poor attendance when enrolment is so high?
We cannot attribute any one reason for poor attendance. There must be more involvement of parents in children’s education and more interaction between teachers and parents. We have achieved enrolment target and now it is time to set new target in terms of learning of children.
What is the education level of children going to school?
Learning is a big issue that needs to be addressed. Over 30% of children leaving standard eighth do not even have basic reading skills. Basic mathematics skill is also very low. By standard eight, almost 60% of children are not able to perform simple division. Without strong foundation skills, it is difficult for children to cope with what is expected of them in upper primary grades.
Is family background also responsible for poor learning?
Yes. Almost 50% of children come from families where mothers have never gone to school and around 25% of children are first-generation learners, which means both their parents have never been to school. In such a scenario, children will suffer as there is no one to guide them at home.
Are teachers responsible for it?
Teachers are not much of a problem. It is a misconception that teachers are responsible for poor learning of children in government primary schools in rural India. Teachers have to grapple with multiple-grade students sharing the same classroom. In such a scenario, it is not easy for the teacher to complete the course.
Are private schools also mushrooming in rural areas of UP?
Private educational institutions are coming up in large numbers in rural parts of UP. Around 52% of children in rural areas are going to these private schools. However, education standard of these schools is also not up to mark.