ASER report points to huge age-variation, weak emotional skills in early schooling in Nalanda
The annual status of education report (ASER) – 2019, released on Monday, has pointed out that just 29.7% children aged six years are enrolled in Std 1 in Bihar’s Nalanda district, contrary to the Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE), which mandates that children should enter Std I at age 6. Many states allow entry to Std I at age 5+.
The survey was carried out in 60 villages of Nalanda district of Bihar involving 1202 households and 1665 children in the age-group of 0-8. National policy recommends that children age 4 and 5 should be in pre-primary classes.
The report highlights huge age-variation among children enrolled with pre-primary centres, including anganwadis and private schools. Even at age 5, while 73.4% children are enrolled with pre-primary centres, 14.3% are also in Std 1 and 7% not enrolled. In case of four-year-olds, 16.1% remain not enrolled, while 79.7% are enrolled in pre-primary centres.
Similarly in Std 1, 18.9% children were aged four and five, while 34% were aged six, 27.3% aged seven and 19.9% aged eight. In early schooling up to class 3, bulk of the students, around 80%, remain in government schools. The pattern of students in age-commensurate classes varied hugely in class 1-3. A similar pattern has been found in other states also.
According to ASER, 0-8 age-group is the most important stage for cognitive, motor, social and emotional development and requires enabling environment for proper childhood growth.
In Nalanda, as far as cognitive skills are concerned, ASER found that of all the five-year-olds, 80.4% could do sorting, 57.4% spatial awareness, 38.1% seriation, 41.8% pattern recognition, 34.4% puzzle. The percentage of children able to identify emotions - happy, sad, angry and afraid - was, however, just 9.8 in case if children aged 4, 25% for those aged 5 and 36.7% for those aged 6.
In Std 3, 67.6% children could do seriation task, while 59.4% could do pattern recognition, 48.2% could solve puzzle and 77.9% could catch by listening comprehension. In terms of reading ability, 29.4% children of Std 3 could not even recognize letter, while only 38.9% could read Std 1 text. In Std 1, only 19.3% children could read class-commensurate text.
Even at the age of eight, only 56.6% children were able to identify all four emotions. During the survey, the students were shown four face cards, each showing different emotion.
In 2019, ASER focused on the early years, reporting on the schooling status as well as on a range of important developmental indicators for young children in the age group 4-8. The 2018 report had pointed to poor classroom attendance, consistently growing proclivity towards private schools and continuing trend of dip in learning outcomes. In 2017, the report had underlined that even among the 14-18 age groups, the problem of learning outcome, as demonstrated in elementary schools, was a matter of big concern.