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A deep learning crisis has set in during the Covid pandemic, with a largescale Central Government survey capturing a fall of up to nine percentage points between 2017 and 2021 in the performance of students in subjects ranging from maths to social sciences.
The dip has happened across subjects, and grades, shows the results of the National Achievement Survey (NAS), which had a sample size of 34 lakh students in classes III, V, VIII and X.
The survey was carried out in November 2021 across states and Union Territories among students of 1.18 lakh schools in 720 districts from both rural and urban areas.
NAS 2021 also found that as many as 24 per cent of the students surveyed did not have access to digital devices at home, 38 per cent said they faced difficulty carrying out learning activities at home during the pandemic, while 80 per cent said they learn better at school with the help of peers.
“The objective of NAS 2021 is to evaluate children’s progress and learning competencies as an indicator of the efficiency of the education system, so as to take appropriate steps for remedial actions at different levels,” the Ministry of Education said in an official statement.
“It will help to unravel the gaps in learning and will support state/ UT governments in developing long term, mid-term and short-term interventions to improve learning levels and orient on differential planning based on NAS 2021 data,” it said.
Consider the key grade-wise findings detailed in the survey:
In languages, the national average of scores obtained by students was 62 in 2021, compared to 68 in 2017. The corresponding maths scores are 57 and 64, showing a drop of seven percentage points. The performance of states and UTs, when considered separately, show that many performed below the national average. For instance, the maths score of Jharkhand and Delhi stand at 47 each.
The national average score in maths is 44, compared to 53 in 2017, a fall of nine percentage points. The gap in national average language scores has widened by three percentage points, from 58 in 2017 to 55 in 2021. State-wise average scores show that in maths, Andhra Pradesh scored 40, Chhattisgarh 35 and Delhi 38. A state like Rajasthan, on the other hand, scored 53, as many as nine percentage points above the national average.
The national average has come down from 42 to 36 in maths, 44 to 39 in science and social science, and 53 to 57 in language. In maths, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh lagged behind the national average, with a score of 30 each. With a score of 50, Punjab, along with Rajasthan (46) and Haryana (42) scored much higher than the national average.
While no comparative analysis could be done as the NAS round of 2017 did not include students of this grade, the 2021 numbers show the slide in performance deepens with every grade. The maths score nationally is 32, according to the survey. The scores in science, social science, english and modern Indian language are 35, 37, 43 and 41, respectively.
The report shows that Punjab was the best performer across grades and subjects.
In February, the Centre had announced that states and UTs will have to plan “post-NAS interventions” based on the findings of the survey.
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