Rural education

Rural uptick

Print edition : March 03, 2017

The Mookanakuppe Thimmegowda Government High School at Nelamangala, Bengaluru Rural District. A file picture. Photo: SUDHAKARA JAIN

The latest ASER report points to an improvement in reading ability and arithmetic proficiency among rural students in the country.

An increase in all-India rural school enrolment, improvement in reading ability in early classes in government schools, and the lack of growth in private enrolment are some of the key findings of the latest edition of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), brought out by Pratham, a non-governmental organisation, with the support of 500 partner organisations and over 25,000 volunteers.

ASER, a household survey that provides estimates of children’s schooling status and their ability to read simple text and do basic arithmetic, is carried out all over the country and covers children between 3 and 16. ASER 2016 covered 562,305 children in 17,473 villages across 589 rural districts.

The report said that two States showed significant increases in government school enrolment from 2014 levels. In Kerala, the proportion of children (age 11-14) enrolled in government schools rose from 40.6 per cent in 2014 to 49.9 per cent in 2016, while Gujarat saw this proportion rise from 79.2 per cent to 86 per cent.

The gender gap in private school enrolment has decreased in the 11-14 age group, from 7.6 percentage points in 2014 to 6.9 points in 2016.

Three States showed substantial increases since 2014 in private school enrolment among children in the 6-14 group: Uttarakhand (from 37.5 per cent to 41.6 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (from 24.4 per cent to 29.5 per cent), and Assam (from 17.3 per cent to 22 per cent).

Nationally, reading ability has improved especially in the early classes in government schools. The proportion of children in Std III who are able to read at least Std I level text has gone up slightly, from 40.2 per cent in 2014 to 42.5 per cent.

In almost all States there is some improvement in the arithmetic levels of children enrolled in government schools in Std III.

For the most part, improvement in school facilities continues, according to the report. Since 2010, there has been significant progress in the availability of usable toilets, to 68.7 per cent in 2016 from 47.2 per cent in 2010. The proportion of schools with usable girls' toilets has gone up from 32.9 per cent in 2010 to 55.7 per cent in 2014 to 61.9 per cent in 2016, the report said.

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