Opinion | India’s education sector needs a quantum shift2 min read 16 Jan 2019, 10:25 PM IST
Indian children have a huge learning deficit, and governments and civil society need to focus on higher spending on education, political willingness and education of teachers
The quality of education has a direct bearing on any economy. With some 240 million students or nearly 20% of the Indian population in school, their quality of learning or lack of it assumes significance for the competitiveness of the country. Quality of education has been a prickly issue in India for several years as it has an impact on the quality of life, efficiency at the workplace, and labour productivity issues. The latest Annual Status Of Education Report 2018 (Rural) or ASER 2018 holds a mirror to a country that is aspiring to be a knowledge power. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on 26 September 2014 that there is no dearth of talent in India and “Mars success should be made an opportunity to make the world aware of Indian talent", the ASER report shows Indian children have a huge learning deficit. The highly respected annual report, which collected data from 596 districts in India, shows that one in two students (50.3%) in Indian schools lack basic reading ability not just of their own grade but also of those of three levels below. This is a 2.2 percentage point increase compared with the situation in 2014 and a dip of 3.1 percentage points compared with 2010. The situation with regard to arithmetic is equally abysmal—just 44.1% of class VIII students can do simple division. This strike rate is almost same as in 2014 and 4 percentage points less when compared with 2012.