Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2018.

Context: Recently ASER, 2018 report was released by NGO Pratham.

Report findings:

Quality of education:

  • Only 65% class 5 students studying in private schools can read class 2 level text and 44.2% in government schools, which is 2.5% more than 2016.Due to the poor reading ability in class 5 the overall ability to deal with textbooks in higher standards has lowered.
  • Class 2 children are expected to be able to read a simple text fluently and do basic maths like subtraction. But 72% students in Class V can’t do division at all and 70% of Class III student aren’t able to do any subtraction.
  • For class 8, which is the last year of compulsory education under RTE, one in every four children is without basic reading skills. This number has not changed since 2016.
  • In 2018, the highest reading abilities across the country have been reported from Himachal Pradesh at 74.5% followed by Kerala at 73.1% and the lowest is from Jharkhand with only 29.4%.

Enrollment:

  • The proportion of children (age 6-14) who are not enrolled in school has fallen below 3% for the first time in 2018 and stands at 2.8%.
  • In terms of gender-specific enrolment too, percentage of girls outside of school has fallen to 4.1%, a drop of over two percentage points.

Gender differences:

  • Girls are behind boys in basic arithmetic knowledge: only 44% of all girls could solve division problems compared with 50% of the boys. But girls are doing better in states like Himachal, Punjab, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • For the age group 14 to 16, the proportion of girls who can read at least a class 2 level text outperforms boys in many states like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.

Inference from the findings:

  • RTE has been successful in raising enrolments in schools in rural India(above 95% since 2007), and out of school numbers is also declining and the gender gap is shrinking.
  • Reading abilities of children have also shown gradual improvement and arithmetic abilities are stagnant.
  • Overall ‘quality of education in India’,or learning outcomes, is the worst performer in school education and needs immediate attention.

Reasons for slow improvement in quality of education in Indian schools:

  • Underfunded primary education: Government funding for education was meager 2.4% in 2016 and out of total expenditure on education, primary education receives around 28% share.
  • Low teacher effectiveness: Teacher effectiveness is low in India due to:
  • Low time for classroom instruction preparation by teacher who are mostly involved in administrative and non-academic duties by the government.
  • Low quality and diversity of teaching material (only used in 10% classrooms in India) e. lack of props like maps, posters and physical models, make teaching a boring and difficult task for students, which is a result of lack of funds for these props by schools.
  • Indifferent attitude of teachers who due to cultural barriers between students and teachers.
  • Lack of incentives for teachers and low teacher-pupil ratio.
  • Fragmented teacher training in states:
  • The teacher training is decentralized to states for preparation of training calendar, but there is lack of ownership and well-defined responsibilities in states, which deteriorates quality of learning.
  • 90% of the teacher training institutes lie in the private sector, where standards of training are low and there exists rampant commercialization and corruption.
  • Low use of technology in schools: Computers are hardly used in schools in India and if used, are restricted to audio/visual displays. They are not used for advanced learning purposes like lesson planning, student assessment etc.
  • High drop-out rates: The dropout rate peaks at the secondary level (class IX-X) at 17%, as compared to 4% in elementary school (class I-VIII) and 2% in upper secondary school (class XI-XII). Females usually drop out due to domestic constraints, while males face economic hardships and financial constraints.
  • High enrollment but low access to school education and low attendance: Although the enrollment ratio has improved but schools are not available in close vicinity which leads to low attendance.
  • Poor curriculum and syllabus: Lack of regular updation of syllabus lowers quality. At least 40% of CBSE learning is obsolete, as the syllabus was last revised in 2005.Students, in their school years are made to study complex topics beyond their age, increasing the burden on them.

Suggestions:

  • School development plans and teacher competency benchmarks:Interventions, both at school level and teacher level, should be introduced:
  • School development plans: Each school must include well-defined output based parameters in their school development plans and periodically monitor progress against it. Monitoring should be assigned to an external task force.
  • Teacher competency benchmarks: Government needs to define teacher teaching benchmarks (or Key Result Areas, as followed in Corporates) against which teacher’s performance must be assessed in order to plan teaching improvements.
  • Integrate teacher training with performance management: Apart from monetary incentives teachers should be positively incentivized to undertake        training and professional development through pathways towards career advancement which is an intrinsic motivation.
  • Customized student support through use of technology:Teachers should use technology within the classroom for designing and implementing real time assessments. This will help teachers in providing customized support to students.
  • Focused efforts on reading and arithmetic: In order to improve reading ability, ASER suggests, efforts to improve reading ability should be continued even after class 5. For arithmetics, more use of props and models should be used for schools kids.
  • Arresting dropout rates:
  • Central Advisory Board of Education sub-committee recommended to extend Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalayas (residential schools for girls) till class XII for retaining girls.
  • Mechanisms for dialogue with parents and community should be initiated to change social norms towards girls’ education.
  • To address distance challenges, initiatives like distribution of bicycles to children can be taken up.
  • Regulation of teacher training: Unregulated field of teacher training should be reined in by the government through stricter accreditation guidelines and control over agencies issuing licences to control corruption.
National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE)is working and will soon put out a ranking mechanism for teacher training institutesusing a new framework – TeachRwhich will divide them in four categories – A, B, C and D. The institutes falling in D category will be asked to shut down with immediate effect and those falling in C category will have to make and meet changes within 12 months or face shut down.

 

  • Separation of teachers from non-academic work: Teaching duties should take preference for a teacher and their involvement in government administrative work should be minimal.

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