The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2010, conducted by Pratham, a non-governmental organisation, has reiterated the findings of agencies such as the NCERT on the state of primary school education and learning levels of students in the Union Territory.

Released by Vice-President Hamid Ansari in New Delhi on January 14, the report was the largest annual survey of rural children in the country and evaluates the status of school education in the rural areas in all States and Union Territories (UT). The survey had a sample of 20 households each from 60 villages in Karaikal and Puducherry regions.

As per the report, though the Union Territory ranked among the top in meeting several requirements under the Right to Education Act, such as student-teacher ratio and teacher-classroom ratio, the figures indicating the competency levels of rural students were among the worst in the country; especially when compared to other smaller States.

For example, 30 per cent of all students sampled in classes I and II were unable to read even letters in their own languages; much higher than the national average of 23.4 percent.

The percentage of students from Class III who were able to read Class I text was 27.1 per cent; just marginally higher than the national average of 25.7 per cent.

In arithmetic too, the performances were poor. The number of students who could do subtraction or more in class III to Class V was 59.1 per cent compared to 62.2 percent in Goa and 72.8 per cent in Sikkim.

The fact that the competency level of primary students has remained consistently poor in the last three years is raising concerns.

A retired senior official, on condition of anonymity, said that even the improvements in figures between the mid-term assessment report for Class, V done by NCERT in 2008, and the current ASER report was due to the consolidated figures of both private and government schools.

“I will not be surprised if the figures come out worse if a survey is done exclusively for rural government schools in Puducherry,” he said.