Foundational learning of students in Hindi is poor but their performance in regional languages in some States was even worse, according to a survey carried out by the Union Ministry of Education and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
Around 53% of class 3 students in 18 States surveyed for Hindi proficiency either lacked or had limited knowledge and skills in reading and comprehending the language. But proficiency in regional languages such as Kannada, which was analysed in States such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala, was poorer with 59% of students either lacking or displaying limited skills.
67% of students couldn’t perform well in Assamese in Assam and Meghalaya. In Kerala, 56% of students couldn’t read or comprehend Malayalam properly, and in Goa, 59% of students could not do so in Konkani. In Meghalaya, 61% of students couldn’t perform well in Khasi, and 54% were found to be poor in Manipuri in Manipur.
As far as Urdu is concerned, which was assessed in 13 States, 65% of learners couldn’t perform well.
The survey divides learners on the basis of their knowledge and skills into four categories — those who “lack” them, have “limited” proficiency, “sufficient” competency, and those who are “superior”.
The findings are part of the National Report on Benchmarking of Oral Reading Fluency with Reading Comprehension and Numeracy, which aims to assess the foundational learning of children at the end of class 3.
The National Education Policy 2022 which advocates for a three-language formula where two of the languages are native to India, says that the medium of instruction till at least class 5 or preferably till class 8 should be in the mother tongue, after which it can be taught as a language.
The Policy also emphasises on the importance of foundational learning.
The survey findings will help the government determine benchmarks in 20 languages and numeracy. The government has launched NIPUN as a national mission to enable all children at the end of class 3 to attain foundational skills by the year 2026-2027 and these benchmarks will provide a baseline for subsequent surveys.
Approximately, 86,000 class 3 students from 10,000 schools were covered for the study. The sample included State government schools, government-aided schools, private recognised and central government schools.
As far as skills in maths were concerned, the study found that the most basic knowledge and skills in numeracy were either lacking or limited in 48% of Class 3 students.
As many as 11% of students couldn’t complete the most basic grade-level tasks in numeracy and 37% of learners could only partially complete basic grade-level tasks.
Among the States, Tamil Nadu was the worst performer with 77% of students either lacking or possessing only limited numeracy skills. It was followed by Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir with 72% of students in these two categories, 65% in Goa, 62% in Gujarat and Andaman and Nicobar.
In all, there were 11 States with more than 50% of students who either lacked or had limited skills with numbers.