Falling standards
Jaspal Bhatti

THE Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2011 for rural India has found a fall in mathematical and reading abilities among Class V students across the country. The best thing the Education Ministry can do in such a situation is to blame the Health Ministry for poor eyesight of the children. Then it is up to the Health Ministry to defend itself by claiming that the inability to read or calculate is not because of children’s poor eyesight or malnutrition but because of the faulty educational policy and the Education Ministry’s lack of monitoring of government schools. Kapil Sibal has already blamed the state governments for the deterioration in education standards.

Whenever there is such a report, which has either poor or positive statistical results, the ministers and officials concerned either fight for credit or put the blame on others for poor performance. If the report says there is an increase in enrolment in schools, then a minister can always claim that it was after his lecture in the maternity home to newly born children four years ago which has resulted in more and more kids joining school.

The report also says more and more kids are relying on private tuitions. A politician engaged a private tutor for his child. "I want you to teach my son arithmetic," the politician said. The tutor asked, "Of what level?" The politician said, "the very basic level, where the child should be able to calculate how many legislators are needed to form a government or how many are needed to defect to make it fall."