New Delhi: A national effort through Right to Education (RTE) to improve the quality of school education seems to be yielding little result. The learning outcome in reading, writing and arithmetics is becoming poorer and enrolment in private schools is improving significantly, indicating a growing distrust of the common man against state-run schools in the country, a report found on Thursday.
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) by education non-profit Pratham on Thursday said that most children in primary schools today are at least three grades behind from where they should have been now and learning deficit from primary schools can hamper the learning outcome in higher grades, which poses a question whether India’s education system and lack of sincerity to improve it, is hampering the future of young generations.
For example, while half of the Class 5 children in government schools used were able to read Class 2 texts in 2010, the number has gone down to 41.7% in 2012. Similarly, in 2012, around 50% of the Class-5 students were able to do a two digit subtraction as against 71% in 2010.
The only consolation is overall enrolment is quite high among rural India students at 96%.
Madhav Chavan, head of Pratham, said that when RTE was implemented (in April 2010), there were apprehensions that RTE may ensure right to schooling and not right to education. And that's happening. “This is the direction where the country is heading,” he said, adding that it becomes a prerogative of the policy makers “to see the danger”.
“There is an uphill battle ahead as the outcomes go downhill,” said Chavan, whose organisation conducted the survey across 567 districts of India to gather the findings.
While the quality in learning is going down, the government has to worry even in terms of enrolment in state-run schools. The private school enrolment has risen from 18.7% in 2006 to 28.3% in 2012 indicating poor faith of people on government schools. If the trend continues, then by 2018, India may have 50% children in private schools, said the ASER report. It means they have to pay for their own education even in primary level.
In December 2011, a global study of learning standards in 74 countries had painted a poor picture of India. It ranked India all but at the bottom, sounding a wake-up call for the country’s education system. China came out on top. In the OECD study, the country ranked just ahead of Kyrgyzstan in mathematics and overall reading skills.
However, human resource development minister M.M. Pallam Raju on Thursday said he is not grudging the fact that more students are going to private schools. If children are getting good education by going to private schools “then so be it”.
“We will try to match the standard in government schools”. The minister also indirectly dismissed the finding of the study by saying that “it’s a dipstick” survey.
Raju, however, said that the trend that the number of out of school girl students is going up is worrisome and his ministry will work on this.
Though, some of the parameters under the RTE Act have improved, it’s far from where it should be, revealed the study.
For instance, 27% of all schools visited had no drinking water facility in 2012, proportion of schools with useable toilets is only 56.5% and mid-day-meal was served in 87% of the schools. The desired student-teacher ratio is missing in nearly 60% of the schools across India.