More Indian children are attending schools today than ever before. But, the problem all along has been that the learning achieved has not been commensurate to the class that children attended. The Cycle 4 of the National Achievement Survey (NAS) conducted by NCERT for Class V students shows that there is no perceptible difference among children—in reading comprehension, mathematics and environmental studies—in most states as compared to the earlier Cycle 3. Haryana is among the few states where children have achieved higher scores in all three subjects compared to Cycle 3. That is commendable considering that Haryana is not among the leading states as far as education levels are concerned. Haryana managed to do that, thanks to the partnership with the Boston Consulting Group—the project was funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation—to enhance learning levels under the Quality Improvement Program (QIP) covering 15,000 schools and benefiting 27 lakh students and 1.25 lakh teachers. The QIP goals include bringing 80% Grade I-V and
V-VIII students to respective grade-level competencies in 5-7 years, and put Haryana among the top five in ASER (Annual Status of Education Report), NAS and third-party learning outcome surveys. According to ASER, literacy and numeracy levels in Haryana were on a slide from 2010-12. That trend has since been reversed. In 2014, a 5% increase in the percentage of Class V children who can do division and a 10% increase in percentage of Class V children who could read Standard II text was observed over 2012 numbers. While what Haryana has achieved is commendable, there is much more to be achieved.
The change in Haryana happened due to three factors. This included creating a state-wide focus on improving learning outcomes, measuring them and creating ‘accountability’ across all stakeholders; rigorous implementation of the quality improvement initiatives launched by the department and finding means to address needs of students who are behind their learning levels in a classroom. Under QIP, 18,000 government primary school teachers, 360 master trainers and over 400 mentors have been trained in the state. The Haryana example is something that other states can look to replicate and that too quickly—if government schools can be transformed in one state, they can in other states as well.