Sharp drop in kids' basic reading ability: Report : The Tribune India

Sharp drop in kids' basic reading ability: Report

Sharp drop in kids' basic reading ability: Report

The country has witnessed a rise in children's enrolment in government schools. However, there has been a decline in basic reading and arithmetic skills of young children, said the latest edition of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) released on Wednesday.



Tribune News Service

Karam Prakash

New Delhi, January 18

The country has witnessed a rise in children’s enrolment in government schools. However, there has been a decline in basic reading and arithmetic skills of young children, said the latest edition of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) released on Wednesday.

The 17th edition of the ASER, prepared by Pratham Education Foundation, was released after four years. It was apparently delayed due to the pandemic.

The report highlights the proportion of children (age 6 to 14) enrolled in government school increased from 65.6 per cent in 2018 to 72.9 per cent in 2022. This Increase in government school enrolment is visible in almost every state in the country, reveals the survey.

The survey noticed a decline in basic reading and arithmetic levels. As to Class V students, the reading ability declined from 50.4 per cent in 2018 to 42.8 per cent in 2022, reveals the report.

As to arithmetic skills, the all-India figure for children in Class III, who are able to at least do subtraction, dropped from 28.2 per cent in 2018 to 25.9 per cent in 2022. The proportion of children in Class V across India, who can do division, has also fallen from 27.9 per cent in 2018 to 25.6 per cent in 2022.

Most affected states — where a steep drop of more than 10 percentage, in arithmetic skill, has been recorded — are Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

Worryingly, basic reading skill of children has plummeted a great deal.

“Nationally, children’s basic reading ability has dropped to pre-2012 levels, reversing the slow improvement achieved in the intervening years. Drops are visible in both government and private schools in most states, and for both boys and girls,” reads the report.

“This report gives us the direction and also the sense that to enhance the education standards, the eco-system involving government, corporates, civil society and NGOs need to work together. A concerted effort by all in the education space is needed to propel India’s economic and social development,” said the foundation.

More students taking tuitions

Though in the past decade, rural India has seen a small and steady increase in the proportion of children in Classes I-VIII take paid private tuition classes, between 2018 and 2022, this proportion increased further among the students (both of government and private schools). Nationally, the proportion of children in Class I-VIII taking paid private tuition classes increased from 26.4 per cent in 2018 to 30.5 per cent in 2022.

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