Almost 50 per cent of students studying in classes 3 to 5 in government schools in Pune division cannot even do basic subtraction. The figure is almost 2 per cent down from that of the year 2012. This was revealed in the recently published ninth Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) 2013 on rural schools, conducted by NGO Pratham Education Foundation. Chief Secretary J S Saharia is scheduled to review the report and official statistics on Tuesday.
Pune division consists of five districts — Pune, Solapur, Satara, Kolhapur and Sangli. According to ASER, in 2012, 52.39 per cent students of classes 3-5 could do subtraction but in the year 2013, only 50.31 per cent students could do basic maths. However, Pune does much better in this category than the other 5 divisions and the state average, which stands at 31.66 per cent. The worrying factor for officials is that the number of students who cannot do maths is actually increasing. In 2009, the year when Right to Education Act came into force, 79.9 per cent students in classes 3-5 could do basic maths, but it reduced by almost 29.59 per cent in 2013. The downward trend is not just limited to students of classes 3-5.
The number of students in classes 1-2 in Pune division who can actually read words or recognise numbers, too, has gone down in the last five years, says the report. In 2009, 93.27 per cent students in classes 1-2 could read letters. But in 2013, only 85.58 students could do so — a 7.69 per cent dip. Similarly, 94.09 per cent students in classes 1-2 could recognise numbers from 1 to 9 or more in 2009. But in 2013, this was reduced by 4.19 per cent.
The report, however, puts Pune above the other five divisions — Amravati, Aurangabad, Konkan, Nagpur and Nashik. There was even 1.43 per cent increase in the per cent of students in classes 3-5 who can read at least standard 1-level textbooks, with 83.72 students being able to read it in 2013. Mahavir Mane, Director, Primary Education, said: “We have seen the report but I am yet to go through it. I will have to first check and verify their methodology, the places from where they took the samples and how they took it, their pattern of checking etc. Only after all this can we comment on whether our level has really gone down or not. I think, we have done a lot of progress in the recent years.” He added: “Yes, there are positives and negatives. The chief secretary has called a meeting on January 21 to review this report. We have also asked the SCERT to make a detailed report on the schools. Once we review all this, we will get a clearer picture.”