Education matters (not?)


The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2009, the largest annual survey of rural children, carried out by Pratham,  is out. 575 districts, 16000 villages, and nearly 7000 children across the country were surveyed.  The report has  very little to be proud of and  plenty to be ashamed of on the eve of the 60th Republic Day.

Some findings that caught my eye:

Enrollments are much higher in government schools than in private schools.  Click here for the data on enrollments.  Not surprising, I suppose, given that it’s rural education the survey focusses on.

Here’s the state-wise performance in math and reading for children in classes I-II and III-V. The figures tell a dismal story. 

Reading ability in English of children in classes III through V is abysmally low, with the national average at 16.7%

The performance in math is reasonably better at 56.3 %, with Madhya Pradesh and some of the North-Eastern states doing surprisingly well.

 26.9% of children take private tuitions —  a matter of shame for teachers I should think. 

And the figures for AP. The percentages for ability in English and arithmetic for classes I through VIII stand at less than 40%. Depressing.  Perhaps those numbers will improve dramatically if the state is broken up into two or more smaller states?

Gah! I’m so not in the mood for dark humour.



  1. Anand said

    Scratching my head at one the stats. Does not seem logical.

    * 26.9% of children take private tuitions – does not seem right.

    Probable causes –
    * it’s probably the only way for Govt teachers to earn in some states because they have not been getting paid regulalry.
    * There is a lack of incentive for teachers to produce results inside the classroom. They get rewarded to produce the results outside the classroom

    I think teachers need more attention. At the risk of sounding jingoistic..they are as important as Jawan and Kissan.

    Thanks for the highlights. Now I have to read the report. Other blurbs I saw – didn’t make it look so interesting.

  2. Anand:

    Yes, you’re right. The alternate system of tuitions (not just at the school level but coaching centres for various competitive exams as well) cannot be read too simplistically. I was looking at it from a single perspective: many children in govt schools are first-generation learners. So if the child doesn’t understand what’s taught in school, then parents have to hire private tutors. That those tutors may be the teachers themselves…well, that’s grimly ironic to put it mildly.

    There’s more in those statistics that’s horrifying …— the facilities, for instance. …

  3. gaddeswarup said

    The system of tutions was already in place in villages of Guntur, Krishna districts in the forties and fifties. Apart from providinding extra earning to the teachers, teachers houses provides provisions and an atmosphere for study which was not present in many of the village houses. We (often around 20 students)used to sleep in the teachers’ houses and come home next morning.

    Somewhat off topic. There were some memorable experiences too. We waited for the teacher to sleep and sneaked off to see movies. In one instance we ran 6 miles to Repalle to see Awara; the scences from the movie stll fresh in my mind.

  4. gaddeswarup:

    Yes, guntur, krishna, thu.go, pa.go… Hubby concurs with you. He has similar memories since he studied in village and small-town schools (podagatlapalli, ryali, maarteru, tanuku…). We convent-educated types, on the other hand, are hopeless snobs, no? 🙂

  5. gaddeswarup said

    About convent education etc, there seem much more prosperity for middle classes since my days. Our parents had to struggle to send us to university. Now I find many of my contemporaries ( in their sixties) living in India and abroad are prosperous, often go abroad for vacations, look for exotic foods etc. So convent education for children is no big deal for many of them. But when I visit villages, I find that Dalit classes are still struggling. I wonder whether this uneven spread of prosperity among classes and regions is part of the problem in A.P. these days.

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