Tags: education

It is a matter of utter satisfaction that MORE children have MORE year of schooling in India, as per the ASER 2023 report. However, much work needs to be done to impart QUALITY education.
However, it is well known that children from rural background and disadvantaged section of society struggle to acquire the basic arithmetic, reading and comprehension skills which leads to a poor foundation and as they say you can not make a high rise building on a weak foundation.

True, this is a complex and important question that has been discussed by many researchers and policymakers. According to some studies, children from rural backgrounds and disadvantaged sections of society do face significant challenges in acquiring basic arithmetic, reading and comprehension skills, which can affect their academic performance and future opportunities.
Some of the factors that contribute to this problem are:
– Lack of infrastructure: Many rural schools lack basic facilities like clean water, toilets, electricity, and adequate classrooms, which makes it difficult for students to focus on their studies.
– Shortage of qualified teachers: Rural areas often face a shortage of qualified teachers, especially in science and math; this leads to low-quality instruction and high dropout rates.
– Language barrier: In many rural areas, students speak their local dialect, which differs from the language of instruction. This language barrier can make it challenging for students to learn and understand.
– Poverty: Many students in rural areas come from impoverished backgrounds, and their families cannot afford education costs, such as uniforms, textbooks, and transportation.
– Gender inequality: In some places, girls are not allowed to go to school, or if allowed, it is only up to a certain age. They are not allowed to move out of their hometown for higher education or better jobs.

Some of the steps that can be taken to improve the situation are:
– Investing in infrastructure: Policymakers can invest in improving school facilities, upgrading technology, and providing internet access to schools and students.
– Recruiting and retaining qualified teachers: The government can provide incentives and training for teachers to work in rural areas, and ensure that they are adequately paid and supported.
– Bridging the language gap: The curriculum can be adapted to the local context and culture, and students can be taught in their mother tongue or a language they are comfortable with.
– Reducing poverty: The government can provide scholarships, subsidies, and other financial assistance to rural students, and encourage them to pursue higher education and employment opportunities.
– Promoting gender equality: The government can implement policies and programs that ensure equal access and quality of education for girls, and empower them to make their own choices.
These are some of the possible solutions that can help improve the quality and access of education for rural and disadvantaged children. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and each situation may require different interventions and collaborations.

Many policy changes have come about because of the greater emphasis on foundational literacy numeracy among learning in kids of disadvantaged sections of society.
The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) is a recent policy document that aims to reform the education system in India. One of its key features is the focus on ensuring universal access and quality of foundational literacy and numeracy for all children, especially those from disadvantaged sections of society.
Some of the policy changes that have come about because of this emphasis are:
– Establishing a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy to coordinate efforts across states and central government, and to provide support and resources for effective implementation.
– Providing early childhood care and education for all children between 3-6 years, with a special focus on the nutrition and health of children.
– Introducing a new curricular and pedagogical structure (5+3+3+4) that aligns with the COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES of children, and ensures continuity and integration of learning across different stages.
– Reforming the assessment system to SHIFT FROM ROTE LEARNING TO CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING, and to provide multiple opportunities for improvement and feedback.
– Promoting multilingualism and Indian languages as the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, and preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, to facilitate better comprehension and expression.
– Ensuring equitable and inclusive education for all children, with special emphasis on socially and economically disadvantaged groups (SEDGs), through provisions such as non-discrimination, accessible infrastructure, reasonable accommodations, individualized supports, and special education zones.
– Recruiting and training teachers and special educators with cross-disability expertise, and incorporating disability awareness and inclusion within teacher education.
– Leveraging technology to enhance access, quality, and innovation in education, while ensuring digital literacy and equity for all learners.
These policy changes are expected to reduce the learning poverty and improve the learning outcomes of children, especially those from disadvantaged sections of society, by providing them with a strong foundation of literacy and numeracy skills.
According to the ASER report 2023, the percentage of youth aged 14-18 who have completed at least eight years of schooling has increased from 71.1% in 2017 to 77.7% in 2023. However, this does not necessarily mean that they have acquired the expected learning outcomes for their grade level. The report also shows that only 44% of youth can read a Std II level text fluently, and only 28% can do a simple division problem correctly.
Moreover, the ASER report 2023 only covers the rural population of India, which accounts for about 66% of the total population. The urban population may have different enrollment and learning patterns, which are not captured by the ASER survey. Therefore, the ASER report may not reflect the overall situation of education in India.
Another source of data that can be used to compare the years of schooling of children in India is the Expected Years of Schooling (EYS) indicator, which is part of the Human Development Index (HDI) published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The EYS measures the number of years of schooling that a child of school entrance age can expect to receive if prevailing patterns of age-specific enrollment rates persist throughout the child’s life. According to the latest HDI report, the EYS of India increased from 8.37 years in 2001 to 11.9 years in 2021, growing at an average annual rate of 1.9%. This suggests that there has been a steady improvement in the access and duration of schooling for children in India over the past two decades.

However, the EYS indicator also has some limitations, such as not accounting for the quality of education, the dropout rates, and the variations across regions and social groups. Therefore, it may not capture the full picture of the learning outcomes and opportunities of children in India.