M A I N   N E W S

Post RTE, reading ability takes a hit
Haryana sees steepest fall yPunjab, HP pupils weaker in maths
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) has failed to positively impact learning outcomes of students across government schools in the country with more than half the class V students now unable to comprehend class II texts.

This marks the steepest decline in children’s reading levels over the past three years, putting a question mark over the employment of continuous and comprehensive evaluation of students as a strategy under the RTE Act.

The major drop - of five percentage points as compared to 2011 - in reading abilities of students has been seen in Haryana, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala. The decline is true of students in both government and private elementary schools, indicating a significant challenge for school education.

The Annual Status of Education Report-2012 published by community building organisation Pratham further shows that despite being the year of arithmetic, 2012 hardly brought any good news for the subject.

Arithmetic abilities of students have in fact dropped sharply. In 2010, of all children enrolled in class V, 29.1 per cent could not solve simple two-digit subtractions with borrowing. The percentage rose to 39 in 2011 and is 46.5 pc this year.

Such has been the drop that comparing a cohort of children in government schools in class V in 2011 with that in the same grade in 2012, there is evidence of over 10 percentage point drop in the ability to do basic subtraction in all states.

Class-V graders have been found to be much weaker at problem solving this year than in 2011 particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Other states have recorded declines but not that sharp.

In J&K, for instance, only 17.3 per cent elementary school students (classes I to VIII) can do divisions as of 2012. The ability of students to divide is the lowest in smaller grades.

In class III, only 6.8 per cent of all students in government and private schools in the state can divide and the percentage is 20.9 for those in class V.

Around 30 per cent students of classes I to VIII in the state can do subtraction but no division. Punjab and Haryana are slightly better than J&K but struggling to improve nevertheless.

In Punjab, 35.4 per cent of all elementary-level students can do divisions; 23.9 per cent can do subtractions but no divisions. Corresponding percentages for Haryana are 33.8 and 22.8.

“The continuous comprehensive evaluation mandated under RTE Act has not really improved the learning ability of students. The practice has actually led to declines. That poses a question mark on the merit of the strategy,” says Madhav Chavan of Pratham.

So far as reading goes, in 2010, the year of RTE’s implementation, nationally 46.3 per cent students of class V enrolled in both government and private schools could not read basic class II text. The percentage rose to 51.8 in 2011 and further to 53.2 in 2012.

Pvt enrolment up

In 2012, 40 pc of all children in J&K, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP and Meghalaya enrolled in private schools

Since 2009, private enrolment in rural areas rising at an annual rate of 10 pc

At this rate, 50 pc village children will be enrolled in private schools by 2018





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