Primary school students are still struggling with basic literacy and numeracy, finds government’s latest ASER Survey 2018, though there is a slight improvement in enrollment. The learning ability of children in rural areas has fallen dramatically to its lowest in a decade in 2018.
Among children enrolled in standard 3rd in government schools, six states (Punjab, Haryana, Mizoram, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Kerala) have shown an improvement of more than 5 percentage points over 2016 levels.
The findings of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) reveal that the learning abilities of children at the Class 8 level is lowest in a decade while basic Mathematics continues to remain a problem across sections.
According to the government’s annual ASER report, released by the Pratham Education Foundation on Tuesday, 85% children could at least read basic text in 2008 but that number has declined to 72.8% in 2018.
The report states that 60% children from Class 3, 28% from Class 5, and 15% from Class 8 could not read the basic Class 2 regional language text. The children were tested on their ability to read basic sentences in Hindi or other languages, apart from letters and words.
Mathematics remains a problem for both at the younger and older level. When it comes to basic mathematics, only 28.1% children at the Class 3 level were able to do basic subtraction in 2018, a fall from 38.8% in 2008.
The children were given tasks such as identifying numbers and doing basic subtraction to test basic mathematics skills, which a large number of children could not.
States such as Punjab, Kerala, Haryana, Maharashtra, Assam, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have shown an increase in the level of children able to do basic mathematics. Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Bihar have shown a decline.
There is a gender difference in student’s basic mathematical ability such as calculating time, discount and applying the unitary method to solve the problems. Nationally, 50.1% of boys in the 14-16 age groups could do division while 44.1% girls could do the same. The survey found that 49.5% of boys could calculate time correctly while 44.5% could do so.
The ASER report 2018 concluded that helping children acquire reading and basic mathematic skills by the end of Class 2 and beginning of Class 3 will reduce learning gaps in later stages.
When it comes to Enrolment in private schools, there has been a substantial increase in the number of students attending private schools in rural areas in the country over the past 12 years.
From 18.7% rural students attending private schools in 2006, the figure has jumped to 30.9% in 2018. Most of this jump has occurred in Manipur, followed by Meghalaya and Haryana.
More than 50% of children are going to Anganwaadi centers and only 9.9% to private schools in kindergarten (KG) at the age of 3 years.
Rukmini Banerji, Chief Executive Officer, Pratham Education Foundation who publishes the report claimed that India is close to achieving ‘schooling for all. “Now is the time to make ‘learning for all’ a national priority so we can move beyond this year’s ASER headlines into meaningful action”, she added.
The ASER 2018 is a nation-wide household survey of children across rural India in the age group 3 to 16 to understand their basic reading and arithmetic abilities.
ASER is a nationwide report that concentrates on the quality of education of states and districts. From reading and writing to mathematical abilities, it also emphasizes on the overall infrastructure of government-run schools.