Rural India prefers pvt schools to govt-run schools

Students' enrolment up from 18.7 percent in 2006 to 28.3 percent in 2012

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | January 18, 2013



In the last three years, enrolment in private schools in rural areas has risen by nearly 10 percent every year. It has increased to 28.3 percent in 2012 from 18.7 percent in 2006, says the annual status of education report (ASER) 2012. The report, covering about six lakh children in 16,000 villages of 567 districts, says if the trend continues India will have 50 percent children studying in private schools in next 10 years.

In 2012, more than 40 percent of children in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Meghalaya were enrolled in private schools. The percentage was more than 60 percent in Kerala and Manipur.

Human resource development minister MM Pallam Raju, while releasing the report on Thursday, said he would not grudge the trend of increasing enrolment in the private schools. “The important thing is that kids should get education. But we will definitely try and match their standards."

In most school, facilities have improved in the recent years. Now more schools provide midday meal, have drinking water and useable toilets including those for girls.

The minister added that the Right to Education (RTE) Act seems to be helping in developing better school infrastructure. He said though there is a continuous increase in the enrolment rate, the challenge with the government is to sustain it.

The ASER findings, published by NGO Pratham, shows that despite improvement in infrastructure the core problem - poor learning - levels still exists. In fact it has increased. In 2010, 46 percent of class 5 students could not read class 2 textbooks. This has risen to 53.2 percent in 2012.

Also, 46.5 percent of class 5 students could not solve a simple subtraction sum of two digits without borrowing in 2012, which is up from 29.1 percent in 2010. In fact, barring Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, every state registered a drop in arithmetic learning levels, ASER 2012 says. The report blames it partly on the UPA’s flagship Right to Education Act.

“There has been a feeling that RTE may have led to relaxation of classroom teaching since all exams and assessments are scrapped and no child is kept back. Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) is now a part of the law and several states are attempting to implement some form of CCE as they understand it,” Pratham CEO Madhav Chavan has written in the report.

He added, “Does CCE catch this decline? Are teachers equipped to take corrective action as the law prescribes? Given the magnitude of the problem, it will be a good idea to focus just on basics at every standard and not treat it as a ‘remedial’ measure. At this stage, teaching-learning of basic foundational skills should be the main agenda for primary education in India.”

The CCE replaces marks with grades and evaluates a student’s performance on co-curricular activities besides academics round the year. Also, the RTE Act has no-detention policy up to class 8 which was criticised by several state governments last year.

The HRD minister also showed concern about the declining learning levels among school children, but said the CCE is not to be blamed for it. “Ever since I have taken over the ministry, parents have been requesting me to scrap CCE.”

The report shows that school enrolment stands at over 96 percent for the fourth consecutive year. However, the proportion of out-of-school children is slightly up from 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent, and it is more in girls (11-14 years) at 6 percent from 5.2 percent in 2011.

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