“My sister is in grade 8 and she has trouble even with basic reading. A lot of her friends face the same problem. This got me thinking, if she has reached the 8th grade, why is she bad in academics? I decided to make this video to understand what was happening,” says IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Shambhulal Khatik.
The latest Annual Status of Education Report reads out a grim verdict for the state of Indian Education. School enrolment stands at 96% for the fourth consecutive year—a statistic that acts as a shiny veneer for the dark reality that looms large.
The same study states that the percentage of children in Government schools who can identify numbers up to 100 has reduced to 50% from the 70% it was four years ago. This decrease in quality has been largely attributed to the Right to Education (RTE) and Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) policies that have been implemented since 2010.
Both these policies have scrapped exams and evaluations in classrooms. They have also implemented a ‘no holding back policy’ till the 8th grade, which means that students are passed till the 9th grade regardless of their performance.
The rationale for a policy like this is not difficult to understand. Children face a myriad of problems on a daily basis to get to school. Sometimes schools are too far from home; sometimes going to school means there is one less hand to earn money for the family. So the incentive to keep the children who do make it to school is not completely off the mark.
“While making the video I spoke to a lot of teachers who agree that there need to be some changes in the way that the no holding back rule is implemented. The reality is that teachers are in most cases overworked. Very often they get called away for things like Census duties which wastes their time. In the little time they have, they cannot give their students full attention.”
The outcome for this on the already shaky system has been disastrous. The ASER report found that only about 30% of 3rd grade students could read a textbook meant for 1st grade students. These statistics are strong evidence of the mess the education infrastructure is in. From schools that remain shut, to lack of teachers, to teachers who want to teach but can’t because they have to go on government duty—students and teachers in India face them all.
We can build the schools, we can even lure in the students. But an education system that doesn’t give students even the most basic skills is hollow. Just numbers on a fancy report to show that India Shines.
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