More than a fourth of rural students opt for private schools for better education, says Annual State of Education Report by non-profit Pratham
The Union government may have made right to education a fundamental right by bringing into force the Right To Education (RTE) Act of 2009, but government schools are lagging far behind in providing quality education, according to the latest report released by Delhi-based non-profit, Pratham. At the same time, the Annual State of Education Report (ASER) for rural India, released on January 15, shows improvement in infrastructure like playgrounds, drinking water facility, toilets, pupil-teacher ratio as well as serving of mid-day meal.
The ASER report says the gap between private and government schools students’ learning ability has been widening and that almost 29 per cent of rural students choose to pay around Rs 100 to private schools to get education. Besides, they also pay between Rs 100 and Rs 200 for private tuition.
The ASER report is an annual report prepared after surveying 14 states to gauge the status of elementary education. Pratham has been releasing the annual report since 2005.
As per the report, the proportion of schools that comply with RTE pupil to teacher ratio norms has increased every year, from 38.9 per cent in 2010 to 45.3 per cent in 2013. RTE provides for free and compulsory education to children of age-group 6-14 years.
Steady rise in private school enrolment
The number of rural students enrolling in private schools has increased by more than 10 per cent in the past seven years. In the age group 6 to 14, there has been a steady increase in private school enrolment from 18.7 per cent in 2006 to 29 per cent in 2013. The increase in private school enrolment in the last year was, however, very small, from 28.3 per cent in 2012 to 29 per cent in 2013.
There are wide variations in private school enrolments across rural India. In Manipur and Kerala, for instance, more than two-thirds of all children in the 6 to 14 age group are enrolled in private schools. But less than 10 per cent students in this age group are in private schools in Tripura (6.7 per cent), West Bengal (7 per cent) and Bihar (8.4 per cent), although the enrolment numbers have grown substantially since 2006. Between 2012 and 2013 Kerala showed the highest percentage point increase in private school enrolments among children aged 6-14.
The proportion of children in classes I-V who receive some form of private input in their schooling (private school, private tuition or both) has increased from 38.5 per cent in 2010 to 42 per cent in 2011, 44.2 per cent in 2012 and to 45.1 per cent in 2013. Families are spending around Rs 100 on a child. Private school students are also paying similar amount but they also pay between Rs 101 and Rs 200 for private tuition. Nationally, the proportion of children in classes I-V who take paid private tuition classes increased slightly, from 21.8 per cent in 2012 to 22.6 per cent in 2013. For classes VI-VIII, the increase was from 25.3 per cent to 26.1 per cent.
In Tripura and West Bengal, more than 60 per cent of children in classes I-V take paid private tuition. In Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, less than five per cent do so.
Little improvement in ability to read, do sums
Reading ability: Students of private schools showed a little improvement in their ability to read, whereas the students of government schools showed no sign of improvement in comparison to previous year. The proportion of children in class III who can read class I books increased slightly—from 38.8 per cent in 2012 to 40.2 per cent in 2013—and this increase was seen in private school students. However, the percentage of government school students of class III who could read class I text books was only 32 per cent in 2013, almost same as in 2012.
In Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, students are more improvement in comparison to others since 2009.
The report says the ability of class V students who can read class II students remains virtually the same since 2012 (47per cent), though their percentage has decreased slightly since 2009 (52.8 per cent).
Among children enrolled in government schools, the percentage of class V children able to read even class II level text book has shown a marked decline from 50.3 per cent (2009) to 43.8 per cent in 2011. In 2013 only 41.1 per cent students of class V could manage to read even standard II text books.
The report also says the gap between students of private schools and government schools in their ability to do basic arithmetic has also been increasing. In 2009, the gap was nearly 14 per cent but in 2013 it increased to nearly 26 per cent.
In 2010, at least 33.2 per cent children of class II in government schools could do subtraction, as compared to 47.8 per cent in private schools. In 2013, only 18.9 per cent class III students in government schools were able to do basic subtraction or more, as compared to 44.6 per cent of class III children in private schools.
In government schools, nearly 21 per cent students of class V can do division of lower class whereas it is nearly 40 per cent in private schools.
Nationally, there is no change observed in ability of solving two-digit subtraction by borrowing by standard III students, and is taught in class II.
In 2013, over 40 per cent of government school children in class V in three states—Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Mizoram—could do three-digit by one-digit division problems.
The attendance of students of upper primary has been declining whereas attendance of teachers has showed no change. Teacher attendance in both primary and upper primary schools is at 85 per cent. But student attendance shows a slight decline, especially in upper primary schools from 73.1 per cent in2012 to 71.8 per cent in 2013.
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