Situation with basic reading ‘extremely disheartening’ in India: Report

NEW DELHI: As much as 25 per cent of Class 8 students cannot read a Class 2 level text, an education report launched on Tuesday said, noting that overall, the situation with basic reading continues to be “extremely disheartening” in the country.

“In 2014, in Class 3, only a fourth of all children can read a Class 2 text fluently. This number rises to just under half in Class 5. Even in Class 8, close to 75 per cent of the children can read Class 2 level text (which implies that 25 per cent still cannot),” said the 10th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2014).

The report, facilitated by NGO Pratham, is the largest annual household survey of children in rural India that focuses on the status of schooling and basic learning.

It however added that some very small improvements in reading were visible in the last few years.

“The proportion of Class 5 children who can at least read a Class 2 level text has inched upwards from 46.8 per cent in 2012 to 47 per cent in 2013 and to 48.1 per cent in 2014. 38.7 per cent of Class 3 children could read at least a Class 1 level text in 2012. This number is slightly higher at 40.2 per cent in 2014,” the report added.

But, Tamil Nadu has shown “major gains” in reading over last year for Class 5, the report said.

School enrolment in India was close to universal enrolment for the age group 6-14, with the percentage of children enrolled in school at 96 per cent or above for six years in a row.

In 2014, 30.8 per cent of all 6-14-year-old children in rural India were enrolled in private schools. “This number has increased slightly from 29 per cent in 2013,” the report said.

Maths however continued to be a “serious and major source of concern”.

“The all India (rural) figures for basic arithmetic have remained virtually unchanged over the last few years. In 2012, 26.3 per cent of Class 3 children could do two digit subtraction. This number is at 25.3 per cent in 2014. For Class 5 children, the ability to do division has increased slightly from 24.8 per cent in 2012 to 26.1 per cent in 2014,” the report said.

It added that the percentage of children in Class 2 who still cannot recognize numbers up to nine has increased from 11.3 per cent in 2009 to 19.5 per cent in 2014.

Madhav Chavan, chief executive and president, Pratham Education Foundation said the report was in a way “summary of what we have observed over the tenures of UPA I and II. It is also a baseline for the new government and what it has to deal with.”

For the report, 577 districts and 16,497 villages, and about 5,70,000 children in the age group 3-16 were surveyed.


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