Most rural students 2 grades below par in language, maths

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 29 2011, 07:20am hrs
Painting a grim picture of the state of primary education in five states of the country, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has revealed that 53% of the fifth standard children in rural India can read a second standard level text and 36% can solve a three digit by one digit division problem, thereby suggesting that the situation has hardly changed over the six-year period for which ASER data is available.

Further, the report says that childrens learning levels are far behind what is expected of them. Most of them are at least two grades below the required level of proficiency in both language and mathematics.

The study conducted by ASER Centre, Unicef and Unesco followed about 30,000 children in 900 schools in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan for a period of 15 months to see how much they learn in a year and the factors associated with classroom, school and household lead to better learning.

With 13% of the countrys population under six years of age, Indias annual budget for elementary education stands at R21,000 crore and more than 96% of all children are enrolled in school.

The report found that 20% of children surveyed are first generation school-goers and less than half of all households have any print material available so they dont have materials to read at home.

Though children are expected to be able to read simple words in first standard, ASER said that out of more than 11,500 second standard children tested, less than 30% could read simple words and only three out of every 10 children could fluently read third standard text.

Even in high performing states, both second and fourth standard children have difficulty writing simple words correctly. Less than 20% could solve a one digit addition word problem. Further, while children in fourth standard could comfortably solve basic arithmetic operations, they struggled with word problems which required them to apply this knowledge, the report noted.