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National Achievement Survey: Punjab students off the mark in math, fare better in languages

Among children of Class 5 who took test in select schools in all districts of state, 37% could answer more than half the questions for their class.

punjab Updated: Feb 05, 2018 11:12 IST
Navneet Sharma
Navneet Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
National Achievement Survey,Punjab,Punjab students
Absenteeism, teacher shortage and unsupportive family environment are to blame for the poor show.(HT File/Representative image )

When Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his team in the education department talk about improving the quality of education in government schools, they seem to have got to the nub of the problem. The National Achievement Survey (NAS) — conducted by the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) to assess competency levels in elementary classes — has reported poor performance by students of classes 5 and 8 in mathematics.

Of 24,046 children of Class 5 who took the test in select schools in all districts of the state, 37% could answer more than half the questions of their class. Ferozepur, Gurdaspur and Sangrur emerged as best districts, where the number of such students was more than 50%. Bathinda, Barnala and Muktsar are at the bottom. In Bathinda, half the 1,546 students assessed could not answer even 30% of questions.

The numbers for Class 8 were worse, as only 12% of the 24,920 students could answer more than half the math questions meant for class-appropriate competencies correctly. Gurdaspur, Ferozepur and Amritsar fared better than others. Muktsar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala did worst. In Barnala, Bathinda and Mohali, 60% students could not answer even 30% of the questions.

The assessment test was conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in November last year to evaluate learning competencies of students in state-run and aided schools; to understand educational health of schooling, diagnose maladies, and institute measures to fill them, said an official. Students of Class 5 were assessed in three subjects (math, English and Punjabi), and the test for those from Class 8 had science too. The findings will be used as inputs in designing initiatives to improve learning outcomes.

Students fared better in languages — 52% of Class-5 students answered more than half the questions correctly. Gurdaspur and Ferozepur topped the state whereas Bathinda, Rupnagar and Muktsar fared worst. In Bathinda, 40% kids in Bathinda could not answer about a third of the language questions correctly. In class 8, 55% students gave correct answers to half the language questions with Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Kapurthala districts emerging on top. Moga and Tarn Taran were at the bottom.

Absenteeism, teacher shortage and unsupportive family environment are to blame for the poor show, according to Balkar Valtoha, general secretary of the Punjab Government School Teachers’ Union. “These children come from poor families and many of them have to work to support their families. As for girls, they have to care for their younger siblings and do the household chores, leaving them little time to study,” he said.

However, Punjab Government Primary Teacher Association president Subhash Chander sees hope in the stress on class-appropriate competencies and monitoring by the department. “Targets have been set for teachers and a mechanism created for regular monitoring,” he noted.

First Published: Feb 05, 2018 11:12 IST