Learning outcome in rural schools continue to remain poor with only about 40 per cent children able to read a Class-I level paragraph and just about 25 per cent in Class V able to solve a simple division, says a latest survey.
The Annual Status of Education Report-2013 by Pratham, widely followed by policy makers and educationists, said that though the learning level remained more or less the same as last year, private schools performed better than government schools.
Enrolment level in private schools also continued to rise with the figure remaining as high as 69 per cent in Kerala. The survey covered about 16,000 villages and six lakh children between the age group of 3-16.
The learning achievements is "disappointing", said Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Visibly concerned, he touched on the issues of no detention policy in classes under the RTE regime, the wide variation among states in the learning outcome as highlighted in the survey and the growing inclination among students towards private schools, seeking a detailed study on these issues.
Ahluwalia said the survey should cover the urban centres also to bring out a comprehensive analysis of the state of education in the country and where does the rural schools stand vis-a-vis city schools.
Though the report stated that overall enrolment ratio stood at a high of 96 per cent, it said the ability to read and do simple maths continued to remain low. But thanks to better performance among students in private schools, "the proportion of children able to read at least a Class-I level paragraph rose slightly from 38.8 per cent in 2012 to 40.2 per cent in 2013", he said.
The report singled out the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab which have shown steady improvement in reading ability among Class-III students since 2009. The report said the students were still struggling with basic maths and little has changed since the last survey.
"The proportion of all children in Class V who could solve a three-digit by one-digit division problem increased slightly from 24.9 per cent in 2012 to 25.6 per cent in 2013. Typically, this kind of division problem is part of Class-III or Class-IV curriculum in most states," it said.
Noting that the gap between children in government and private schools has widened over the years, it said that in 2013, 18.9 per cent of Class-III students in government schools were able to do basic subtractions as compared to 44.6 per cent of class III students in private schools.