Reading Ability Drops to Pre-2012 Levels, Enrolment Up in Govt Schools, Jump in Private Tuition: ASER 2022

Only one in five Class III children could read a Class II level text in 2022 – a scenario seen in both government and private schools across the country India which showed a sharp decline in basic reading ability of children enrolled in primary classes (Classes III to V) over the past two years as schools were closed during the Covid-induced lockdown. According to a nationwide survey, it has apparently “reversed” more than a decade of slow progress.

latest annual status of Education The first Foundation in Leadership Report (ASER) 2022 includes parameters such as school enrollment and attendance; basic reading, math and English ability; and school facilities, in rural districts of the country. It was restarted after a gap of four years, reaching 19,060 villages in 616 districts. A total of 3,74,544 households and 6,99,597 children in the age group of 3 to 16 years were surveyed.

The last ASER report based on physical household surveys was released in 2018. Therefore, the present report compares it. As no nationally representative data were available during this time, data were collected using phone surveys.

Almost every state is showing an increase in enrollment in government schools

The latest ASER report showed that while enrollment in government schools has increased, private tuition has also seen a jump. The report said that after the pandemic, the number of students in the age group 6 to 14 enrolled in schools increased to 98.4 percent in 2022, compared to 97.2 percent in 2018, with more enrollment in government schools than private schools. However, a large increase was also registered in the number of people going for paid private tuition.

The proportion of children (ages 6 to 14) enrolled in government schools is set to rise sharply to 72.9 percent in 2022 from 65.6 percent in 2018. The report states that the increase in enrollment in government schools is visible in almost every state of the country.

“At the national level, the proportion of children in classes I to VIII going for paid private tuition is expected to increase from 26.4 per cent in 2018 to 30.5 per cent in 2022,” the report said.

The survey’s findings are significant in light of the past two years during the pandemic, which were marred by prolonged school closures and loss of learning. Moreover, according to the surveyors, the report assumes significance at a time when the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which lays major focus on foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN), is under implementation.

Decline in reading ability of both boys and girls

Nationally, children’s basic reading ability has fallen to pre-2012 levels, reversing the slow improvement achieved in the intervening years. This can be seen in most of the states in both government and private schools, and in both boys and girls, the report said.

The percentage of children in third grade in public or private schools who can read a grade-second level text fell from 27.3 percent in 2018 to 20.5 percent in 2022. and private schools,” the report said.

States showing a decline of more than 10 percent from 2018 include states that had high reading levels in 2018, such as Kerala (52.1 percent in 2018 to 38.7 percent in 2022), Himachal Pradesh (47.7 percent to 28.4 percent), and Haryana (46.4 percent to 31.5 percent). Andhra Pradesh (from 22.6 percent to 10.3 percent) and Telangana (from 18.1 percent to 5.2 percent) are also showing steep declines, according to the findings.

Coming to the proportion of children enrolled in Class V nationally in government or private schools who can read at least a Class-II level text, fell to 42.8 per cent in 2022. This figure was 50.5 percent in 2018. States where this indicator was stable or showing slight improvement include Bihar, Odisha, Manipur and Jharkhand, the report said.

The report further points to states showing a decrease of 15 percentage points or more — Andhra Pradesh (59.7 percent in 2018 to 36.3 percent in 2022), Gujarat (53.8 percent to 34.2 percent), and Himachal Pradesh (76.9 percent to 61.3 percent) to percent) percent). Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Haryana, Karnataka and Maharashtra are witnessing a decline of more than 10 per cent.

For those enrolled in eighth grade, although the decline is visible, it is less so. “Nationally, 69.6 per cent of children enrolled in Class VIII in government or private schools could read at least a basic text in 2022, up from 73 per cent in 2018,” the report said.

As per the report, the decline in basic arithmetic levels is not that sharp. “Nationally, the proportion of children in third grade who are able to do at least subtraction fell from 28.2 percent in 2018 to 25.9 percent in 2022, compared to 27.9 percent for children enrolled in grade V who can do division. Slightly less than 25.6 per cent in 2018 to 2022,” it said.

what the experts say

Analyzing the findings of the report, educationist Meeta Sengupta said the gap in learning is mainly visible due to prolonged closure of schools. “The decline in reading ability is rapid because it requires more structured schooling than arithmetic used in daily life and through community education. To better understand the situation we need to look at community education. More research is needed. However, the focus on basic education in NEP 2020 over the next few years may, we can say at the right time, reclaim the gap.

Sengupta further said that with regard to enrollment in government schools, it clearly shows the economic rationale post-pandemic. “We do not know whether this is a trend at the moment and will need to observe the situation for the next few years. As for the spike in private tuitions, it is because parents are not necessarily focused on the quality of education in government schools. trust and the advent of technology in education may increase the number of portals and apps offering learning tips, it may increase in future as well.” he added.

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