The just released ninth Annual Survey of Education Report on rural schools, conducted by the NGO Pratham Education Foundation, reconfirms familiar truths about the Indian education system and offers a reality check on the UPA’s achievements and failures in the education system through its decade-long rule. It has been getting more and more students to school but learning levels have continued to fall.
GETTING THEM IN
The ASER reports over the years, starting 2005, show how under the UPA, school enrolment has improved impressively and now faces just last-mile issues. With enrolment over 96 per cent for children in the age group 6-14 in 2013, and in fact consistently in the range 95-96 per cent for the last five years, getting children to school is one key result area where this government has delivered. Many have argued, however, that it should have reached 100 per cent by now.
BUILDING A SCHOOL
Over the years, the UPA has also managed to put together school infrastructure that is as much the right of schoolchildren as quality textbooks and pedagogy. The Right to Education Act that came into effect under UPA II has sharpened focus on the must-have standards and norms at schools. ASER 2013 data show that 76.3 per cent schools now have an office-cum-store, 62 per cent offer a playground, 56 per cent are protected by a boundary wall, 73 per cent have drinking water, 62 per cent have a useable toilet, 53 per cent provide girl students a separate, unlocked and useable toilet, 87 per cent were serving midday meals the day the ASER team visited them, and 40 per cent had children using library books the day of the visit.
The report notes the progress on many RTE-related norms. “Since 2010, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of schools with a useable toilet, from 47.2% in 2010 to 62.6% in 2013. In 2010, 31.2% of all schools visited did not have a separate toilet for girls. This number has declined to 19.3% in 2013. The percentage for useable toilets for girls has also increased from 32.9% in 2010 to 53.3% in 2013”.
The pupil-teacher ratio, which has a clear bearing on the attention a student receives from a teacher, has improved since the RTE came into effect. From 38.9 per cent schools meeting PTR norms in 2010, as many as 45 per cent schools have done so in 2013. The other essential, teacher attendance, was 85 per cent in 2013.
TEACHING & LEARNING
This is the one key indicator where the government seems to keep failing on. Though te government has pumped in funds and focused closely on building new classrooms, toilets, continued…