Even as the reading levels of schoolchildren have stagnated throughout the country, Tamil Nadu has seen sharp improvements.
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2014, says only an average 48.1 per cent of Class V children across India can read a Class II-level text.
While this is an improvement from the 47 per cent in 2013, the percentage shot up to 46.9 from 31.9 in Tamil Nadu.
Though the reading levels in Himachal Pradesh (75.2 per cent) and Haryana (68.1 per cent) are higher, they do not differ much from 2013. The survey facilitated by Pratham, a non-governmental organisation, says Tamil Nadu has made the highest gains.
In Assam, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, less than 35 per cent of the Class V children surveyed can read a Class II-level text.
The survey covered 5.7 lakh children aged three to 16 from over 34,000 households between September and December across 16,497 villages in 577 districts.
K. Devarajan, Director of School Education, Tamil Nadu, during 2012 and 2013, said targeted teaching with adequate recruitments had resulted in the improvements in the State.
“In the past two years, 40,000 teachers have been recruited and teachers focus on weaker students. This, along with the incentives and teaching tools, has made a difference,” he told The Hindu.
“The survey does not collect data on reasons for the changes. However, I can say that in the past two years, Tamil Nadu focussed a lot on improving the basics in Tamil and Maths in Classes I and II. It may also be the case that the activity-based learning in government schools is giving results now,” ASER head Rukmini Banerji told The Hindu.
The need of the hour, she said, is to fix learning goals and have remedial classes for children to catch up.
“Several States have programmes to teach children, irrespective of the class they are in, basics that they have not yet understood. That is the way forward. Sticking to the syllabus will not help those who are left behind,” she said.