The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) painted a grim picture of the affairs in the state's education sector. The report says that 52.6% class V students failed in simple division while 75.5% can't do simple subtraction. Moreover, two thirds of class V students cannot recognize numbers from 1 to 9. The situation is similar in other classes and reading levels are also no different. In class III, 13.4% children cannot even read letters, 21.6% of the students in class VIII cannot read the texts of class II, the report says. Similarly, only 49.2% students can read class II level texts. Another striking feature is that only 24.5% students in classes from I-VIII can recognize numbers.
The report says the number of dropouts among girls in age group of 11-14 has increased. From 11.2% in 2012, the girl dropouts increased to 12.1% in 2013.
The only saving grace is enrolment of students in 6-14 age group which is more than 94% since the last five years. However, the cause of concern is that the students continue to lag behind in arithmetic. Besides, a only a small section of class III children are able to solve a two-digit subtraction but those unable to do simple math problems has increased from 18.7% in 2012 to 23.1% in 2013.
Despite the government pumping in crores of rupees in the education sector and the number of private schools complying with the RTE parameters for enrolment have jumped from 25.2% in 2006 to 39.5% in 2013, the dismal picture of the sector still prevails. ASER was conducted in 32 districts and in around 947 villages covering 19,000 households and 37,000 children in the age group of 3-16.
"In the past year, the government conducted Shiksha Samblan followed by Reading Campaign. Perhaps it is the result of this focus on learning outcomes that significant improvements in reading in class III and some increase in class V are being achieved," said K B Kothari, managing trustee of Pratham, reacting to the report.