The state of tomorrow’s nation

Despite strides in elementary school enrolment, the quality of education and nutrition levels among children are cause for alarm, says a study

September 23, 2014 01:22 am | Updated 01:22 am IST

Over the years, the Rajiv Vidya Mission and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have worked wonders in enrolling children in elementary schools in united Andhra Pradesh. As a result, enrolment among 12-year-olds in Telangana went up from 89 per cent in 2006, to 96 per cent in 2013. In Andhra Pradesh, it rose from 90 per cent to 97 per cent.

However, there is a marked decline in the learning outcomes of children from both States, as pointed out by Young Lives , an international study of childhood poverty conducted by the University of Oxford in association with the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Sri Padmavathi Mahila University, and Save the Children. The results were shared by the representatives of CESS and Young Lives at an event on Monday.

Many 12-year-olds could not answer Maths questions involving simple arithmetic calculations, and the percentage of such children has only increased between 2006 and 2013, results of the study showed. Though those from private schools fared better, the decline in their performance over the years is equally alarming.

Malnutrition remains persistently high among the children sampled by Young Lives , at around a third. Consumption of coarse cereals, pulses, legumes and nuts has come down drastically, noted CESS Director S. Galab.

There has been definite improvement in access to clean water and sanitation, but that still falls short of the desired standards.

The percentage of 19-year-olds who were acquiring university education stood at 28.4 in Telangana and 34 per cent in AP. Those enrolled in any sort of education at 19 stood at 46.7 per cent and 49.5 per cent respectively for the states.

Over 37 per cent of girls in Telangana were married by 19, while close to 61 per cent of them had had children. The figures for AP stood at 34.8 and 58 per cent respectively.

Young Lives’ director Jo Boyden underlined that the first 1,000 days of life are key to future outcomes, and that poverty affects child development through changes in brain structure.

Young Lives has been following 12,000 children from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam over 15 years, 2,000 children born in 2000-01 and 1,000 born in 1994-95 from each country. In India, the study was conducted in Telangana and AP. The study has five survey rounds, with four of them completed.

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