Learning outcome of children continues to be a big concern in Bihar, with one in four children leaving Class 8 without even basic reading skills, says the annual status of education report (ASER), 2016 by Pratham, an NGO, which works towards the provision of quality education to the underprivileged children in India.
The report, released in New Delhi on January 18, points out that though school enrolment has been high since 2010, attendance, despite incentives, remains a worry in Bihar. The state has recorded just 50%-60% attendance, as compared to over 80% in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana and other states.
What is striking in Bihar is the dip in attendance of teachers. While it was 84.6% in primary schools (Classes 1-5) in 2010, it dropped to 77.5% in 2014 and 74.6% in 2016. The trend was almost similar in upper primary schools (Classes 5-8) as well.
The study shows that Bihar has gradually frittered away the advantage in mathematics in primary schools. From being well above the national level in 2012, it saw a 10% decline in learning outcome in 2016. At 48.5% now, it still is above the national average of 44.3%.
In Class 3, just 20% children could do two-digit subtraction — down from 43.5% in 2010. In private schools, however, the same figure was 72%. The percentage improves to 28.9% for students who can do division in Class 5, and to 61% for those in Class 7.
In reading skill, the performance has dipped further, with barely 38% government schoolchildren in Class 5 able to read Class 2 text — a fall of 19% since 2010. The all-India average is 41.6%. The scenario is worse in Class 3, with reading ability down by 8.5% points since 2010.
There is a silver lining though. The report says that school facilities have improved in Bihar since 2016. However, it still has a long way to go to be RTE-compliant.
Another significant achievement for Bihar is that the out of school children (6-14 years age group) is down to 3.3%, though in terms of girls it is 4.4%. There has been slight increase in private school enrolment from 12% in 2014 to 12.9% in 2016.
Rukmini Banerjee, CEO, Pratham said Bihar would need to refocus on primary education to lay the basic foundation of education and at the same time also catch up with the rest of the country.
“The consistent slide in mathematics is another big concern for the state,” she added.