The recent report from Pratham on primary schools across five states has some implications on the implementation of RTE across the country.
- Currently the government measures enrollment of children in schools. This measure now proves to be incomplete and one needs to measure attendance of students.
- It also will be necessary to be able to make dip stick checks more than once a year for the same set of children. Though this will perhaps double the cost is the entire sample size is surveyed again, it might help get better data.
- Recruitment mechanism for teachers needs to be different than what is used currently. Teacher's ability to teach and connect with the children needs to have more weightage. Even training provided to the teachers needs to focus on improving teachers' ability to teach.
- The classrooms clearly need to be invested into and be made child-friendly.
- The Pratham report found that children and multiple grades are put together in the same classroom. Though this is clearly undesirable, this area might be more difficult to fix because it directly has an impact on finances available for improvement and growth of infrastructure.
- Libraries need to increase in size, more private libraries need to get roped into the system to get students to read books which are away from their regular curriculum.
The study was woven around finding out more about school organization, teacher background, teacher capability for teaching, classroom processes and learning outcomes. Pratham's teams made efforts to locate and understand how social, economic, and educational characteristics of families relate to children’s learning.
The key findings are:
- Attendance is the one of the most important factors in children’s learning.
- Children's learning outcomes do improve during the course of a year.
- Teacher's ability to teach impact learning positively the most and not higher educational qualifications, teacher training or the teachers' background of age and gender
- Child-friendly classrooms improve children’s learning.
- The composition of students in an average primary school class is complicated. Though class sizes were not very large, but complications arise out of children of different grades sit together in one room.
- Use of library books improves children’s learning.
- Children with their language is different than the school's language of instruction learn less and attend school less often.
Overall, it does not seem as if attendance in schools is going up...neither does it seem that more teachers are attending schools than earlier. If you look through the data below, that ASER has published, you will notice the government's apathy to building a solid future human capital base for the country. This tendency is now clearly highlighted by the union budget 2011.
|Type of school||Std I-IV/V||Std I-VII / VIII|
|% Schools with 75% or more enrolled children present||73.4||74.3||73.5||75.6||77||74|
|% Schools with less than 50% enrolled children present||12.3||11.4||13||11.8||8.9||12.8|
|% Enrolled children present (average)||53.5||55.3||54.6||60.6||61.7||55.7|
|Type of school||Std I-IV/V||Std I-VII / VIII|
|% teachers present (average)||90.9||89.1||86.9||87.3||88.6||86.3|
|% schools with no teachers present||0.2||0.4||0.3||0.2||0.2||0.1|
|% schools with all teachers present||73.7||69.2||63.4||53.7||57||52|
Computers in school
|% schools with||Std I-IV/V||Std I-VII / VIII|
|Computers but no evidence of children using||3.2||13.5|
|Computers with evidence of children using||4.6||16.1|
|% schools in which||Std I-IV/V||Std I-VII / VIII|
|Std II children sitting with one or more other classes||54||55.8||53.9||50.4||53.1||53.1|
|Std IV children sitting with one or more other classes||47.6||51||47.9||42||43.9||40.4|
Right to Education is a rather noble cause, but is it getting implemented right or are schools able to follow closely? It does not seem like at least in rural India. The basic framework, be it in terms of student to teacher ratio or even the basic infrastructure, is fundamentally weak.
Pupil to teacher ratio
|School Enrollment||RTE Std.||Number of Teachers on ground|
Per RTE, a school shall have an all weather building with the following facilities:
- At least one classroom for every teacher
- Office cum store cum head teacher’s room
- Separate toilets for boys and girls
- Safe and adequate drinking water facility to all children
- A kitchen where midday meal is cooked in the school
- Arrangements for securing the school building by boundary wall or fencing.
- Teaching learning equipment: shall be provided to each class as required.
- Library: There shall be a library in each school providing newspapers, magazines and books on all
|% of Schools with|
|Building||Office/Store/Office cum store||74.5|
|Drinking Water||No facility for drinking water||17.4|
|Facility but no drinking water available||10.5|
|Drinking water available||72.2|
|Toilet||No toilet facility||10.1|
|Facility but toilet not useable||38.8|
|Girls' Toilet||% Schools with no separate provision for girls toilets||29.3|
|Of schools with separate girls toilets, % schools where|
|Toilet not useable||14|
|Teaching Learning Material||Teaching learning material in Std 2||80.4|
|Teaching learning material in Std 4||75.9|
|Library but no books being used by children on day of visit||24.4|
|Library books being used by children on day of visit||38.7|
|Mid-day Meal||Kitchen shed for cooking midday meal||81.3|
|Midday meal served in school on day of visit||83.4|
It does clearly seem that there are miles to go before the current framework manages to catch up with what RTE prescribes or aims for. In an earlier post, we had mentioned the government's desire to get public sector units to fund many of these initiatives. The money could certainly come in handy to improve basic infrastructure, but teachers have to find it monetarily lucrative enough to remain in rural areas as well.
The reports show some very clear trends as you will see below.
The more prosperous states do well overall, with education improving and % of girl children in schools increasing as well. Focused literacy and education programs are starting to bear fruit. Punjab is an example. Eastern states are starting to do well, and a solid performer has been Himachal Pradesh.
Many states have produced variable results. Year 2009 seems to have been one of fluctuating fortunes as well. The states which are usually oppressive towards girl children (Rajasthan, or western Uttar Pradesh) do poorly even in this survey, naturally. Haryana however, is starting to show improvement.
Very surprisingly Tamil Nadu is one of the worst laggards in providing education (of relevance or impact) in rural areas. The impact of whatever education is getting provided in the state is clearly minimal. This is surprising because there has been no political turmoil of significance, no startling violence or impact of terrorism.
|% of 11-14 year old girls who are not in school||Rajasthan||10-15%|
|attendance % for enrolled children attending primary school||Uttar Pradesh, Bihar||50-60%|
|% of children in Std III who can read Std I text||Tamil Nadu||<30%|
|% of children in Std V who can read Std II text||Tamil Nadu||30-40%|
|% of 11-14 year old girls who are not in school||Punjab, Haryana||0-3%|
|attendance % for enrolled children attending primary school||Himachal Pradesh||>90%|
|% of children in Std III who can read Std I text||Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram||<30%|
The following post is the first part of our analysis of the Annual Status of Education Report 2010 (ASER)
In year 2010, the survey run by NGO Pratham was conducted across 700,000 children in rural India. The survey aimed to find out the impact and efficacy of school education on these children.The outlook is not very encouraging overall.
Reading and Mathematics
Children's ability to read has dropped a few notches in the last five years. In Std. I, a third of the children could read nothing. After having studied for five years (from Std. I), their reading capability did not improve much. Last year, more children (31.4%) were unable to read. However, what the study will find difficult to find is the socio-economic conditions of these children. There is a slight chance that many of the children enrolled this academic year might be from households where they are the first generation to go to school, and thus overall literacy and education might have become more attractive. Whether that is true or not, only time will tell.
But, even by Std V, only 53.4% of children were able to read commensurate to the age and grade level they were at though this number has improved slightly over last year. The number of children in Std V, who were able to read at Std II level dropped 3.4% from 56.2% over last year.
In mathematics, the results are worse. Instead of 65.8% children last year, only 69.3% are able to recognize the numerals. In class VIII, many students aren't able to perform basic arithmetic.
There are many states where one sees regression. But, there also are states where positive movement has happened. For instance, in Punjab the number of students in Std II who could read shot up by 10% over the last two years and children who could perform subtraction went up about 30% during the same time frame.
This area provided about unchanged status with 96.5% enrollment and 73% attendance over the last three years. But, the number of five year olds enrolling in school has gone up by more than 8% over the last year.
Bihar has shown improvement for teens and pre-teens in the last five years. In 2006, 17.6% of girls and 12.3% of boys of ages 11-14 were not enrolled. Now the number has dropped to less than 5%.
In the 13,000 government schools visited by Pratham, it was found that school teacher attendance dropped from 73.7% to 63.4% over the last three years
Private schooling and tuition
Private schooling is becoming more popular in south India. For instance the enrollment percentage went up by 6.4^ to 36.1% over the last year. Over 25%, and over 50% of children are enrolled in private schools in Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively. There also is a very clear trend showing up in certain states for private tuitions that students are starting to take across the country.