For primary education, NCERT’s efforts need State support
State expenditure on school education must be raised and because on that depends the success of many other government schemes and policieseditorials Updated: Dec 12, 2016 23:04 IST
The National Council of Educational Research and Training’s (NCERT’s) proposed survey to evaluate students of class 1 to 8 on the basis of some criteria is an effort to streamline education policy throughout the country with reference to certain parameters. Earlier the council had done a similar survey for classes 3, 5, 8 and 10 for government schools. What the present survey seeks to do is to lay down the minimum that each student must learn at each level. Another thing to note in the NCERT’s proposed assessment of learning is that while the level of class 1 is too elementary, at least partly, the standard goes up sharply in class 6. So the NCERT is likely to find a certain level of uniformity in classes 1 and 2, while differences across schools, regions and families will show up sharply for classes 5 and 6. On the basis of the survey the government could consider incorporating in the Right to Education Act some basic learning outcomes that would have to be attained within certain timeframes.
The step on the part of the NCERT will constantly help to assess the gap between what is required and where things stand as regards education at primary level. But in this the hobbling factor is the absence of academic and social infrastructure that’s conducive to learning. One only has to look at the ASERs (Annual Status of Education Reports) for the past 10 years to know about the fragile learning levels, especially in reading and arithmetic. What’s even more alarming is that the standards are deteriorating over the years. This is despite the fact that enrolment is going up at different levels and the dropout rate is declining. In fact the dropout rate at primary level is below 5% now, though it goes up sharply at secondary level. The reasons for low educational standards are many: People’s migration in search of livelihood, lack of good facilities in schools, lack of good teachers, and, of course, poverty, which appears as the overarching factor. According to media reports, the ministry of human resource development says there is a deficit of 850,000 teachers at primary and upper-primary levels. The number goes up if one leaves out temporary teachers in government schools. Moreover, regular teachers have to perform duties during elections, socio-economic surveys, Aadhar card registration, VIP visits, etc. The Right to Education Act stipulates 30 students for a teacher in each school but this ratio seldom holds in rural and semi-urban areas.
The NCERT’s enlightened approach will come a cropper if it does not get adequate support from the state governments. State expenditure on school education must be raised and because on that depends the success of many other government schemes and policies.