Thursday, 23 February 2012

Class V students in Uttarakhand can’t even do simple division or read class II books: Report

Written by Anil Singh

Class V students in Uttarakhand can’t even do simple division or read class II books: Report

The 2011 Annual Status Education Survey report (ASER) on the state of primary education in Uttarakhand (other states are covered too) released today at Doon University, may make you think.

But don’t stress your brain too much, as just like the College education, the Primary education in this country also needs revolutionary changes. Unfortunately though, no government is willing to do that.

First the findings of the Survey:

1) Even after going to school, diligently, continuously for five years; a large percentage of primar schoolchildren in Uttarakhand have not mastered the elementary mathematical and reading skills.

2) The reading skill among students in standard I-IV/V has shown a constant decline at 12.4 per cent between 2007-2010. Only 58 out of every 100 students (surveyed) of standard V could read the text meant for class II students. The students end up without reading skill even after the completion of primary education, reports the survey.

3) A similar decline is witnessed in arithmetic skill (mathematical skill) and the decline was more than that for the reading criterion. Children of class V even failed to do simple division. Compared to 2010, the arithmetic skill of primary students in 2011 declined 17 per cent. In 2010 51.1 per cent students are found to have the skills; which declined to 33.3 per cent in 2011. This proportion decreases further to 31 per cent for standard V children studying in government schools.

Prof Girijesh Pant, VC of Doon University, seemed concerned at this skill decline at the primary level.

4) The pupil-teacher ratio in 83 surveyed primary schools was not according to norms laid down in the Right to Education Act (RTE).

Key Recommendation of the Survey:

“The schools would have to address the problem in the next five years and ensure that two teachers are entrusted with the task of teaching 60 students”.

Some bright aspects (‘Umeedon Wali Dhoop’ or ‘Sunshine wali Asha’ in Coca Cola terminology):

1) The enrolment rate continues to be high in Uttarakhand, around 99 percent of students in the age group of 6-14 years go to school and the percentage of enrolled children (standard I-IV/V) in 2011 stands at 82.5 per cent which is higher than the national average (it is 70.9 per cent for standard I-IV/V). However, the neighboring Himachal Pradesh surpassed in this metric: in HP, this percentage is 90.9 per cent.

The percentage of enrolled children (standard 1-1V/V) in 2007 was 85.6 per cent, in 2009- 84.3 per cent and in 2010- 89.5 per cent. Significantly, the proportion of girls (age 11-14) not attending schools has increased from 3.4 per cent in 2006 to 4.1 per cent in 2007, to 2.7 per cent in 2008 to 3 per cent in 2009 to 4 per cent in 2010 to 1.2 per cent in 2011. The drop out rate is decreasing in schools. It is 1 per cent in 2011.

2) Interestingly, according to the ASER survey in 2010 (standard 1-1V) 93.6 per cent schools did not have computers, while it was 94.2 per cent in 2011.

NOTE: The survey in Uttarakhand (rural) covered 346 villages, 6,966 families, 297 schools covering 13,223 children to preset the State Primary Education report. It covered all districts except Champawat in Kumaon division.

Some points to think over:

As said in the beginning of the write-up, the primary education sector in India needs some revolutionary changes; for one to see tangible results. The changes are a couple of ‘Dos and Donts’ that need to be incorporated in the current Primary education System.

1) How could Primary education in a country improve if people recruited at primary levels; want to teach upper classes? For better teachers, we need teachers who want to be “primary Teachers” throughout their service life.

This means, a teacher who even when chooses to take masters and doctorate in child education, psychology and learning; wants to teach at the same primary levels. In simple, in such an arrangement, we will have primary teachers who are highly skilled people – the skill which they acquired both by opting for higher degrees while in service; and by years of experience.

This way, a primary teacher will get better with each passing year; and will have valuable insights to pass on to the next line up of Teachers at primary levels.

2) Employment offers like Vishisht BTC or “One Time opportunity to 40 year olds” will not do good to primary education in the country and the state. Such offers may be a great vote bank tactic; but imagine “What your child will learn from an 'academically below average' 36 year old Houseife, who avails one such offer and starts teaching at a school near you!”. Obviously, she will not be a good teacher; after all she is taking a job after 15 years of graduating out of college.

3) Catch them young: Don’t offer Primary teaching jobs to over age people. Recruit fresh pass outs. They will keen to learn while one job. In no way there should be a gap of more than three years of passing out from college and taking the first primary teaching job.

4) Don’t promote primary Teachers to higher classes. Instead, device their own promotion channels. Wherein a School Inspector, Commissioner etc. for primary schools should be from the same primary teachers. Education, Achievements and experience can act as the criteria for such promotions. In simple, why not put a former primary teacher to frame policies for the kids they had taught.

5) Pay Primary teachers even better; than you pay right now. By the way, paying a country’s teachers better applies to all levels of education.

6) Last but not the least, parents should not choose a primary school for their toddler, by seeing whether the school has a Computer lab or not.

Instead, one should see the quality of teachers there and how the school curriculum plans to develop core skills (reading, comprehension, communication, and Arithmetic) in the students. Remember: Computer is least needed, when your child needs to learn more concrete skills (reading, comprehension, communication, and Arithmetic).

Don’t buy the usual line that “Our School has a Computer lab OR we teach by Educomp” and blah blah blah; as most of the times they are nothing more than CLEVER GIMMICKS.

7) If you opt for a private school, then make sure to choose one which has fewer books. If your kid logically learns simple addition, subtraction, Multiplication, Division, LCM, HCF and Reading by the class of V; then he/she can learn wealth of things at higher levels of school. Unfortunately, vice-versa here is not true.

That’s it.

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