Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

One-fourth stu­dents aged 14-16 years not able to read

Find­ings show more than half of them strug­gle to do sim­ple maths, 36% couldn’t name the coun­try’s cap­i­tal

- Nee­lam Pandey let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: One-fourth of the coun­try’s young­sters in the 14-16 age group can­not read their own lan­guage flu­ently, while 57% of them strug­gle to solve a sim­ple sum of di­vi­sion, said a sur­vey re­port on ru­ral ed­u­ca­tion re­leased on Tues­day.

Shown a map of In­dia, 14% couldn’t iden­tify it, 36% couldn’t name the coun­try’s cap­i­tal and 21% could not an­swer the state they live in, find­ings that ex­pose the pa­thetic state of ed­u­ca­tion in ru­ral In­dia.

The sur­vey for the An­nual Sta­tus of Ed­u­ca­tion Re­port (ASER) for ru­ral In­dia in 2017 was car­ried out in 28 dis­tricts spread across 24 states.

“This sce­nario is pretty stag­ger­ing and makes you think what’s go­ing on and what should be done?” chief eco­nomic ad­viser Arvind Subra­ma­nian said, re­fer­ring to the sur­vey’s find­ing that about 40% youth hav­ing no role­mod­els for the pro­fes­sion they as­pire to join. “The learn­ing out­comes of boys and girls are sim­i­lar but in the age group of 14-18, the wedge is open­ing up be­tween boys and girls. It’s im­por­tant to ad­dress it,” he added.

There is hardly any dif­fer­ence be­tween boys’ and girls’ en­rol­ment at age 14 but at age 18, at least 32% fe­males are not en­rolled as com­pared to 28% males.

In terms of daily tasks, some sim­ple ac­tiv­i­ties were picked up for the sur­vey, such as count­ing money, know­ing weights and telling time. About one-fourth of the youth couldn’t count cor­rectly. At least 44% couldn’t add weights cor­rectly in kilo­grams. Check­ing the time is a com­mon daily ac­tiv­ity but over 40% couldn’t tell the hour and min­utes, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Since 2006, the ASER has re­ported on the chil­dren’s school­ing sta­tus and their abil­ity to do ba­sic read­ing and arith­metic tasks; it fo­cused on 5-16 age group.

In 2017, ASER fo­cused on an older age group, youth who are 14 to 18 years old and have moved just be­yond the el­e­men­tary school age.

BE­YOND BA­SICS

About 2,000 vol­un­teers from 35 part­ner in­sti­tu­tions, vis­ited more than 25,000 house­holds in 1641 vil­lages, sur­vey­ing more than 30,000 youth of the said age group.

The re­port said 86% of the youth in the 14-18 age group are still within the for­mal ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, ei­ther in school or in col- lege. More than half of all youth in this age group are en­rolled in class 10 or below.

An­other 25% are ei­ther in class 11 or 12, and 6% are en­rolled in un­der­grad­u­ate and other de­gree cour­ses. Only 14% are not cur­rently en­rolled in any form of for­mal ed­u­ca­tion.

“The re­port has made an at­tempt to look ‘be­yond ba­sics’ and ex­plore a wider set of do­mains be­yond foun­da­tional read­ing and arith­metic. Four do­mains were con­sid­ered — ac­tiv­ity, abil­ity, aware­ness and as­pi­ra­tions,” said a state­ment is­sued by the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

THE RE­PORT SAID 86% OF THE YOUTH IN THE 14­18 AGE GROUP ARE STILL WITHIN THE FOR­MAL ED­U­CA­TION SYS­TEM, EI­THER IN SCHOOL OR IN COL­LEGE

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