Learning levels – both basic reading and mathematical abilities – have declined across the nation and the state since 2010, according to the findings of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) for 2012.
The report, put together annually by the non-profit group Pratham, was released on Wednesday. The sharp fall has directly coincided with the centrally mandated Right To Education Act coming into effect in April 2010. One of its clauses states that children cannot be failed until Class 8.
In 2010, 46.3% of all Class 5 students in the country could not read Class 2 textbooks; this increased to to 53.2% in 2012. The proportion of Class 3 students who couldn’t read Class 1 textbooks increased from 54.4% in 2010 to 61.3% in 2012.
Arithmetic ability, too, has declined. In 2010, of all Class 5 children, 29.1% couldn’t solve a two digit subtraction problem, this increased to 46.5% in 2012. Similarly, children who couldn’t do division problems increased from 63.8% in 2010 to 75.2% in 2012.
“There is a general apathy towards education,” said Usha Rane, director, content and training at Pratham. “Perhaps children and parents feel there is no need to study as they will be passed.” The no-fail policy is enshrined in the Act, and was implemented in Maharashtra in 2010 by way of a government order.
“Since 2010, declining trends are visible. Guarantee of education is meaningless without satisfactory learning. (There are) huge implications for equity and growth for Maharashtra if basic learning outcomes do not improve soon,” said the report. Enrollment levels are however, high both in India (96.5%) and Maharashtra (98.5%).ASER was conducted by surveying 21,782 children from 823 schools in all 33 districts of Maharashtra. Nearly 4.5 lakh children were covered nationally.