Nearly six lakh Class VI students from government primary schools in Gujarat failed to write words and simple sentences in their mother tongue, Gujarati. This has been revealed by Gujarat government’s annual exercise to evaluate and grade the quality of primary schools in the state, Gunotsav. Besides, five lakh Class VI students failed to read simple words and sentences in Gujarati and over 5.6 lakh failed to solve simple mathematical problems. Between 5 to 6 lakh students from Class VI-VIII were rated with similar results in all these three parameters — reading, writing and solving mathematical problems.
A total of 20.31 lakh Class VI-VIII students were evaluated this year during the three-day state-wide evaluation exercise conducted between January 6 to 9. This involved nearly 52 lakh Class II-V students from 34,239 government primary schools. The total number of lower primary students who were evaluated was around 27 lakh. While around 8.28% were absent in lower primary classes, around 10.13% were absent in upper primary classes.
The report (a copy of which is with The Indian Express) revealed similar results for Class VII and VIII.
Incidentally, Gunotsav was introduced by the then chief minister Narendra Modi in 2009. The evaluation exercise is touted to improve the quality of primary education in Gujarat. While the state government has often harped on its efficacy, the Centre is believed to be planning to replicate the exercise across the country.
Admitting the poor performance, state education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama blamed the Right to Education Act. “It is only because of RTE’s no-detention policy that the students of Class VI or VII are not able to read and write simple words. Students, parents and teachers are not bothered about studies as they know they would not be detained till Class VIII.” Under RTE’s no-detention policy, the students up to class VIII are automatically promoted to the next class without being held back even if they do not get a passing grade. “The situation is such that teachers ask me whether they should teach Class III or IX curriculum to a Class VIII passout student,” added the minister.
Despite several efforts by the state government to start “remedial teaching” since last year, the results of upper primary classes (Class VI-VIII) in major subjects, like English, mathematics, social science and Gujarati, registered a decline from previous Gunotsav.
The evaluation revealed that English reported the highest decline of 4.4 per cent — from 59.9 to 55.5 per cent. The results in social science declined by 1.8 per cent, in Gujarati by 1.7 per cent and in mathematics from 54.8 to 54.4 per cent.
Also, in terms of overall academic performance on the scale of 0 to 10, the average levels of all seven subjects (Gujarati, mathematics, Hindi, English, social science, science and technology and Sanskrit) for upper primary classes, it was only 5.34. The subject-wise average performance level was even below 5, the lowest being in Hindi — 4.67.
The overall evaluation is done in the 60:20:20 ratio – 60 per cent education evaluation, 20 per cent practical applications, and the remaining 20 of public participation and usage of available resources.
The results of lower primary classes, too, were not encouraging. An increase of less than 3 per cent (from 60.5 to 62.90 per cent) was reported.
For Class II-V students, the internal evaluation (reading, writing and mathematics) is conducted on an optical mark reader (OMR) sheet which is filled by the external evaluators based on the students’ performance. For students of Class VI-VIII, the evaluation is done through multiple choice questions (MCQ) examination. This is followed by the external evaluation where nearly 30 per cent of schools are covered by senior officials who visit different schools to assess and grade them on the status of education.
This time, apart from subjects, it was decided to introduce reading, writing and mathematics evaluation for Class VI-VIII. Last year, Gunotsav had revealed that the students of upper primary classes failed to read and write basic words in Gujarati.