Over 80 percent standard 3 students in the government schools and 70 percent standard 3 children in rural India still can’t do basic arithmetic such as solving basic divisions, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2018.
According to the report, since 2008 there has been a substantial decline in the ability of standard 5 students, both in government and private schools, to do divisions. It also said that levels in basic arithmetic problem solving has shown no improvements in the past few years.
ASER, part of the independent NGO Pratham, measures enrolment, learning outcomes and other aspects of rural school education every year.
The ASER covered 596 districts, 354,944 households and 546,527 children in the 3-16 age group.
The survey took into account three major aspects, including school enrolment and attendance, basic reading and math abilities, and school facilities with sports infrastructure.
Only 22.7 percent students in government school passed basic division test against 34.4 percent in 2008. The number in private schools was 39.8 percent against 65.2 percent in 2008.
Nationally, 50 percent of all boys in the age group 14 to 16 can correctly solve a division problem as compared to 44 percent of all girls, the report stated.
However, there has been wide variation across states with Kerela, Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat seeing good improvement with over 50 percent class 5 students able to solve basic math problems, ASER said.
All India level, this figure has improved to 28.1 percent in 2018 from 27.6 percent in 2016.
States such as Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Karnataka has shown a decline in 2018 compared to 2016. More than half of the students in standard 7 from these states are still struggling with basic divisions.
The percentage of all children in standard 3 who can read at standard 2 level has climbed up slowly over the past few years, the report added. This figure has increased to 27.2 percent in 2018 from 25.1 percent in 2016.
According to the report, states such as Punjab, Haryana, Mizoram and Uttar Pradesh have shown good improvement in grade level learning, but the deficit is still large.
For students of class 8, which is the last year of compulsory education under RTE (right to education), one in every four children are without basic reading skills. This number has not changed since 2016.
The success of RTE can be seen in the enrolments in schools in rural India that has stayed above 95 percent since 2007, but ASER 2018 survey showed that out of school numbers is also declining and the gender gap is shrinking.
The proportion of girls out of school in the 11-14 years age bracket has seen a decline.
In 2006, the all-India proportion of girls in the age group 11 to 14, who were out of school, stood at 10.3 percent. In that year, nine major states had out of school figures for girls (age 11-14) above 10 percent, the report stated.
"In 2018, the overall proportion of girls in the 11 to 14 age group out of school has fallen to 4.1 percent. This figure is more than 5 percent in only four states.
"Further, ten years ago in 2008, nationally, more than 20 percent of girls in the 15 to 16 age group were not enrolled in school. In 2018, this figure has decreased to 13.5 percent," stated the report.
An interesting trend noted is of stagnancy in private schools enrolment in rural India. While there has been a substantial jump since 2006 across states, last four years have not seen an overall increase.This, however, varies from state to state with Rajasthan, UP and Kerela seeing a significant decline in private school enrollment in last two years, while Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Gujarat have seen 2 percent increase.