From reading difficulties to increased dependency on private tuition, Indian children post the COVID-19 pandemic appear to be going through a tough time coping up with studies. A recent survey report by ASER, which highlights the status of education nationally, has flagged several learning gaps. According to the ASER 2022 report, there has been a sharp drop in the reading abilities of students to pre-2012 level. This includes the comprehension difficulty in about 55% of children in standard III who could read words in English but could not tell the meaning of what they had read.
The drop is visible in both government and private schools across most states and among both the genders. Similarly, the basic Mathematical skills have also declined post 2018 level among children in most grades, the survey claimed. However, the fall is less steep than in the case of basic reading skills, it added.
The report further highlighted an increased dependency on private tuitions even in rural areas. It said that there has been a steady increase in the proportion of children in grades one to eight who opted for paid private tuition classes. Nationally, this number has spiked from 26.4% in 2018 to 30.5% in 2022, the report added. States such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand contribute to this increase by over 8 percentage points.
Interestingly, despite the pandemic taking a hit at the school education system, the overall enrollment ratio increased to 98% in 2022, the report showed. Even the percentage of girl enrollment aged 11 to 14 has increased manifold in the past decade. At present just 2% girl students are not enrolled in educational institutes, the report claimed. However, three states- Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattigrah lag behind as their non-enrollment ratio for girls goes up to 17%.
Furthermore, a rise in the number of small, multigrade classrooms and teacher and student attendance has also been witnessed, the report added. According to it, school facilities such as availability of usable girls’ toilets, drinking water, and reading material has also shown improvement.