Maharashtra govt to help students in 66,600 schools learn to read in six months | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Maharashtra govt to help students in 66,600 schools learn to read in six months

Mumbai city news: The department will distribute learning kits consisting dictionaries, puzzles and books to schools and also train teachers to make learning fun

mumbai Updated: Jun 30, 2017 23:58 IST
Puja Pednekar
Educators said one of the reasons behind the low learning levels are teachers, who fail to hold students’ attention in class.
Educators said one of the reasons behind the low learning levels are teachers, who fail to hold students’ attention in class.(HT FILE)

Maharashtra’s school education department will help students of Classes 1 to 5 learn how to read within six months. Alarmed by a study that said only 27% class 8 students can read a basic text and 31% can divide numbers, the department rolled out a new programme for 66,600 schools — comprising government and private aided schools — to raise learning levels in mathematics and languages. 

The department will distribute learning kits consisting dictionaries, puzzles and books to schools and also train teachers to make learning fun, said a government resolution (GR) issued recently by the department. This is part of the state’s Pragat Shaikshanik (Progressive Educated) Maharashtra programme that aims to improve the quality of school education and for that they hold baseline and competency tests across all schools thrice a year to assess children. 

“Annual status of education (ASER) survey showed that majority of children in Maharashtra cannot read basic sentences,” said Nanda Kumar, principal secretary of the department. The survey found that students in class 8 are unable to read class 2-level texts and do not know basic maths. “Our programme will teach them how to read in three to six months,” he added. 

Educators said one of the reasons behind the low learning levels are teachers, who fail to hold students’ attention in class. “Today’s generation is exposed to fast-paced technology, this has brought down their attention span,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal, St Mary’s School, SSC, Mazgaon and joint-secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education, which runs 150-odd schools in Mumbai. 

While private schools bridge this gap using smart boards, computers or even tablets, government schools face a paucity of funds in purchasing such expensive equipments. So the state has decided to spend Rs48 crore on the project. 

On the other hand, aided schools will receive guidance from the department, but they will have to use their own funds. Some of the principals objected to this saying that government-aided schools do not have the means to afford learning equipments.  “Just like government schools, small aided schools, which do not have the backing of a big trust or society, also struggle to provide quality education to students at low costs,” said Swamy. He added that salary grants are used to pay teachers and non-salary grants are not enough to cover these expenses.