Thursday, January 15, 2015

Only an average 48.1 per cent of Class V children across India can read a Class II-level text

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2014, says only an average 48.1 per cent of Class V children across India can read a Class II-level text. From your own experience of school days, or from observations you might have made in your surroundings, critically comment on the reasons behind such low levels of learning outcomes in Indian schools.

Both public and private school enrollment has increased sgnificantly around the country but, as the report by ASER points out, learning levels have remanined stubbornly low. Even though children are moving up the grade they fail to master the grade-level conpetencies they are expected to; like the report says - “only an average 48.1 per cent of Class 5 children across India can read a Class 2-level text”.
This could be attributed to a number of factors:
1. Lack of qualified teachers - owing to the political pressure many government schools have regularised the contract teachers who were not qualified otherwise.
2. Size of class - An ideal teaching ration should be 1:30 but in private schools it can go as high as 1:70! hence teachers are unable to pay attention to students indivisually.
3. Poor pedagogy and curriculum which stresses more on rote-learning then conceptual understanding. Teachers are pressurised to cover the syallabus rather than help students learn.
4. India does not follow TaRL (Teaching at the Right Level) system and students are given classes based on their age and not their calibre and learning capabilities.
5. With a removal of board exams till class X and even regular examinations from many schools there is no student evaluation going on. Hence students do not learn and still end up moving to higher grades.
What needs to be done:
1. Setting up of quality teachers training insitution all over India for capacity building of staff. Proposed Madan mohan malviya teachers training insititute is a good step in this direction.
2. Government should be ready to invest more in education sector to build infrastructre and hire more qualified teachers tpobring down the teacher-pupil ratio of a 1:30.
3. Curriculum should be updated and stress of TaRL should be given.
4. Continuous and Comprehensive evaluation (CCE) which restructures testing practices is a good move in the direction to ensure a systematic evaluation. Teachers should be given freedom to refine and customise this based on curriculum. Whatever method of evaluation is used, a rigrous evaluation of it is needed to ensure that it is working.
5. More community participation is required - like IIT students who go to nearby villages to teach science and maths and to keep a check on teacher's attendance and other infrastructural issues.
6. an equally important expect is that teaching should be promoted as a good career option so that talent should be attracted in this field.

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