oppn parties Education: The Ability to Absorb, Assimilate & Apply

News Snippets

  • The government decides to decriminalize more than two-thirds of penal sections in the Companies Act
  • Muslim groups tell the Supreme Court that they want the Babri Masjid to be restored
  • Muslim groups claim that while they were asked questions in court, Hindus were not questioned
  • Postpaid mobile services restored in Jammu & Kashmir from today, but still no internet
  • Abhijit Banerjee, an Indian-American currently a professor at MIT, wins the 2019 Noble prize in economics jointly with two others
  • Industrial output slumps in August as the IIP shrinks by 1.1%
  • Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping watch a cultural show at the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram
  • J&K administration lifts the ban on entry of tourists in the Valley, but it remains doubtful how many will visit without being able to use mobile phones and internet
  • After Sena asks members to support the BJP candidate in Kalyan, 26 party corporators and 300 members resign setting off a crisis
  • The Centre sets up a 12-member committee to suggest systemic changes in the GST structure to improve compliance and collection, prevent misuse and evasion and rationalize rates and slabs
  • In line with the RBI outlook on the Indian economy, rating firm Moody's also downgrades growth forecast from 6.8% to 5.8% this year, saying the economy is experiencing a pronounced slowdown
  • HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh says the financial system in India does not offer foolproof security for misuse of the savings of the common man
  • Shivinder Singh and Malvinder Singh, promoters of Ranbaxy and Fortis, arrested for their role in Religare Finvest scam
  • Supreme Court says marriage can be dissolved if it has broken down irretrievably
  • DA of Central government staff hiked by 5% to 17%
Sourav Ganguly is the new president of BCCI, says conflict of interest is a big concern
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Education: The Ability to Absorb, Assimilate & Apply

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The 2016 edition of the Annual Status of Education Report is out. This report is brought out by Pratham, an NGO in the education sector. The report’s findings more or less tally with the earlier National Achievement Survey for class III, V and X (2014, 2015) by NCERT, and the 2015-16 elementary education survey by District Information System for Education (DISE).

All three reports point to the fact that there have been improvements in elementary grades in learning outcomes. They also show huge progress in government schools. But the worrisome fact remains that a huge number of students are still not learning what they should at their age. This age-learning disparity is alarming and measures should be taken to rectify it through necessary inputs – either by improving the quality or performance of teachers or by designing suitable curriculum or by providing additional teaching aids.

These reports delve deep into the education system to monitor policy implementation on the one hand and give out a report card of what is happening as a result of these policies. Hence, they help in identifying whether current policies are working and if not, why. The problem areas are pinpointed and this helps the government in designing better policies or in improving upon the implementation part.

One more thing all the three reports point out is that although there are improvements, some states are slipping badly. Government schools are witnessing a surge in enrolments with Kerala and Gujarat leading. Private school enrolments have shown a slight dip. But three states, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh have shown significantly lower enrolments.

The report also shows that reading ability has increased in primary classes while remaining stable in middle classes and dipping at Std VIII level. Standards in Arithmetic has improved in government schools while English comprehension ability has remained unchanged in both government and private schools in lower grades but continues to decline in upper grades.

Attendance figures in primary and upper primary grades remain almost the same but there is considerable variation across states. States like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Nagaland, Mizoram, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have attendance levels that are above 80%. But in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh, attendance rates range from 50 to 60%.

The report also shows that there has been good improvement in facilities in schools. Toilets have increased with nearly 70% of the schools visited having useable toilets. More than 55% schools had useable separate girls’ toilets. Availability of drinking water in 74% schools showed a small decline but four states, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh had drinking water in more than 85% schools. The report found no improvement in computer availability or library facilities.

The government needs to take a hard look at the quality and performance of teachers in all schools. Are we allowing unfit teachers in classrooms? If not, then why is the quality of learning not improving substantially? Are newer teaching aids, in addition to books, needed? Do teachers need to undergo orientation courses? Does the curriculum need to be redesigned? The thrust should be on improving reading, comprehension and arithmetical ability in primary and upper primary grades. The government needs to act on these findings to give children the ability to absorb, assimilate and apply, without which they will be lost in a fast-changing world. The three A’s should be the cornerstone of education.

Read the full ASER report here