Nearly 59% of Class V students and 89% of Class III students are unable to read a Class II-level textbook in rural Tamil Nadu, the findings of the ASER 2018 survey have indicated. Even at their grade, the results indicate a huge gap in learning levels — 96% of students in Class II are unable to read a text meant for their level.
In a district-wise analysis of the data, Tiruvallur and the Nilgiris have more than 50% of their rural students from Class VIII struggling to read a text meant for Class II.
The survey was carried out among 20,435 students to test their basic reading and arithmetic skills. Additionally, norms and standards prescribed by the Right To Education Act have also been included and in this aspect, Tamil Nadu has scored above the national average in terms of school facilities for students.
B. Oliver, State Head of Pratham Education Foundation, said that Tamil Nadu had continued to show consistently positive trends over the years with regard to enrolment and attendance. “From 10% of students who were out of school in 2010, the numbers have decreased to 2.3% in 2018,” he said. The national average for the same is 13.1% in the age group of 15-16 year olds.
The survey report has additionally indicated that there has been an overall improvement in learning levels in government schools.
Results over the last few years with regard to reading and arithmetic skills in government and private schools have thrown up contrasting trends. For instance, while 72.9 % of the students in government schools cannot do division in Class V, the number is much higher in private schools, with 77% unable to do so.
Similarly in Class V, 53.7% of children in a government school cannot read a Class II level story whereas in private schools, 71.2% of students were not able to do so.
“While the activity-based learning system which the School Education Department encourages is a good thing, there should be better implementation of it across schools. In many institutions, it is taken for granted that the textbooks alone are enough and the methods of teaching the books specify isn’t questioned,” said Christuraj, State Advocacy Coordinator of Samakalvi Iyakkam.
“We’ve observed that students who enter Class IX are often unable to absorb the sudden jump in the curriculum. Their reading skills are generally not up to the mark and they find it tough to cope — at least initially. However, the new syllabus for Class VI, which was introduced this year, many of us felt, would help prepare the students better,” said G.D. Babu of Tamil Nadu Asiriyar Munnetra Kazhagam.