Thursday, January 23, 2014

Maharashtra kids' ability to read & learn poor: Report

Maharashtra kids' ability to read & learn poor: Report

Shreya Bhandary, TNN Jan 17, 2014, 01.07AM IST

MUMBAI: Students in classes I to V are struggling to read or solve simple mathematical problems, a report revealed.
The recently unveiled annual status of education report (ASER) points out at how both government and private schools in the state are complying with the Right To Education (RTE) Act norms. Moreover, the document has given top marks to infrastructure in educational institutes. "We were very happy to see that a maximum number of Maharashtra schools adhere to the prescribed pupil-teacher ratio, attendance is good on the part of teachers as well as students and other infrastructure is in place. But even now students in classes I to V struggle to read or perform simple subtraction or division sums, which is not a good sign," said Usha Rane of Pratham. She added that even the drop out rate in Maharashtra has declined over the years and stands at 1.6% at present.
Facilitated by NGO Pratham, the report is compiled by local organizations and institutions in each rural district across the country. It mentions that knowledge of continuous comprehensive evaluation (CCE) is best among schoolteachers in Maharashtra. "More than 85% teachers were aware of CCE and also knew how to work with the given tools. But there is still a feeling that they have not interpreted the importance of this tool well," added Rane.
The report also states that only 17.8% of class III students could do a two-digit subtraction, which is lower than 24% students who managed to do the same problem last year. The number of students in Class V who could read text from Class II textbook stands at 59.5% which is lower than the 73.2% students who managed this task in 2010.
Experts blamed the "misinterpretation" of RTE's no-fail policy for the decline. "We cannot be sure but it is clear that the basic skills of students in schools have decreased ever since the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act," said Farida Lambey of Pratham.
"While the Act states that students should be promoted to the next grade, teachers are forgetting that they need to ensure that students are learning well before they are promoted to the next grade. Sadly, this is not happening in our schools," she added.
Similar problems had been highlighted in the 2012 ASER report, following which the education department along with Pratham, have started a pilot project in select few state schools. "We have already shared the pedagogy and methodology to effective teaching with some teachers, who in turn will share this knowledge with the others in their districts. This way, more importance will be given to the quality of education as well," pointed Lambey. Rane added that as of now, 3500 schools from 100 districts have been selected for this process where teachers end up taking two hours extra lectures everyday, focusing on basic reading and numeracy skills.

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