Education in India: Reading ability of students remains dismal, finds study

In what is a sad comment on the education scene in India, a report has found that the reading levels of students acrioss the country remains poor with 75% of class VIII students still unable to read class II text.

NGO Pratham released the tenth Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2014) on Tuesday. This survey reached out to 577 districts and 16,497 villages and about 5.7 lakhs students across the rural parts of the country. 

Reading and learning levels in schools in rural India continue to remain low with most children of lower classes unable to do simple mathematics or read a sentence of English.

Lack of flexibility in the system to help children catch up with others and the mismatch between the syllabus and the children's ability to learn were attributed as some of the plausible factors for the learning level by Director of Pratham, Rukmini Banerji.

The report said that the percentage of children in Class II who still cannot recognise numbers up to 9 has increased from 11.3 per cent in 2009 to 19.5 per cent in 2014.

Similarly, the ability to do division among class VIII students has been dropping since 2010. The proportion of Class VIII students who could correctly do a three digit by one digit division problem was 68.3 per cent in 2010 and the number has dropped to 44.1 per cent in 2014.

It said that except Tamil Nadu, where there are some improvements in learning outcome in Maths, the poor learning outcome is prevalent in most other states.

Talking about English, it said that children's ability to read the languages is relatively unchanged in lower primary grades.

In 2014, 25 per cent of the children enrolled in class V could read simple English sentences and this number is virtually unchanged since 2009.

According to the report, the rate of enrollment in schools across the country stands at a staggering 96% but at the same time nationally the percentage of children out of school still remains 3.3%. The report once again highlights the high dropout of children in higher education.

The report highlights that the number of children enrolling into private schools has considerably increased compared to last year; the number was 30.8% in 2014 whereas the same number stood at 29% in 2013. Five states in India—Manipur, Kerala, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Meghalaya have shown private school enrollment at above 50%.

Even the teacher and child attendance shows very little improvement form last year. ASER data indicates that 71.4% of enrolled children in primary schools and 71.1% of enrolled children in upper primary schools were present on the day of the visit. In 2013, these figures were 70.7% in primary schools and 71.8% in upper primary schools.

The detailed report is available on www.asercentre.org.

(With Agency inputs) 

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