Friday, 28 October 2011

Survey shows learning gap in rural primary schools across 5 states

NEW DELHI: A comprehensive report on teaching and learning inside rural primary schools of five states shows a huge gap between expectations and reality, when it comes to learning. It reveals that more than teacher's educational qualification, gender or work experience what matters most to students is teachers' ability to teach.

The study bursts the myth that government schools are overcrowded.

Prepared by Annual Survey of Education Report centre in collaboration with UNICEF andUNESCO, the report assesses children's learning, functioning of schools and classrooms, teachers and teaching. The survey was carried out in Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand and Rajasthan for over 15 months among 30, 000 children.

Overall, less than one-fifth of the children in class II managed to read simple two-letter words. The proficiency rose to about 42% in class III. An average of almost 60% of children of the sampled schools could not do what was expected of them by the end of standard I.

There was variation among states. In AP and HP, over half the children could read words by the end of the standard II and beginning of standard III, whereas in Jharkhand and Rajasthan the corresponding figure was well below 20%. Even in the best performing state like HP, about one-third of all children at the beginning of class III could comfortably do what was expected of them by the end of class I.

By the beginning of class II, over half of all children could write letters that were dictated to them. The proficiency rose to 70% by class III. But barely more than 50% could correctly write a simple word that was dictated to them. In AP, 17.8% of class II children, Assam (9.7%), HP(11.6%), Jharkhand (1%) and Rajasthan (6.8%) could write an answer to a question from a given text. In class IV, there was a marginal increase in Andhra Pradesh, HP and Rajasthan.

Mathematics performance outcome improved by 10 percentage points in class II and by 7 percentage points in class IV, and there was substantial variation across states. There was discernible improvement in learning levels in Assam and Rajasthan. Also, in both the states there was considerable progress for both high and low performers. Jharkhand is the only state, where there was virtually no change in the distribution of test scores in mathematics between assessment of class I and III students.

The study says across five states the average enrolment is less than 30 children in each class. Attendance hovered between 0% and 60%. Other than Jharkhand, less than 10% of all sampled schools had more than 40 children in each class, whereas well over 70% of grades had less than 30 kids.

The survey looked at teacher appointment, their attendance and found that highest number of teachers was in Rajasthan and Jharkhand. There were mainly regular teachers in Rajasthan, whereas in Jharkhand they were para teachers.

Both in Jharkhand and Rajasthan substantially more teachers were present in school registers than were physically observed in school. In Assam, more teachers were observed present than were marked in the school register. About one-thirds of all teachers in the sample were women; the proportion was higher in AP and lower in Jharkhand.

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