The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) report, released by well-known non-profit organisation Pratham on January 13, 2015, has once again revealed extremely poor educational standards of Gujarat. Instead of showing any improvement, Pratham surveyors found them to be progressively declining, despite the annual Gunotsav festival for improving the quality of education in the state, going on for the last several years. ASER further found that things are no better with regard to girl child education in rural Gujarat, sought to be promoted through the Kanya Kelavni enrollment drive every year. Based on an analysis of the data it collected across all the 26 districts (increased to 33 last year), the data suggest that, while Gujarat may be doing quite well in providing basic school infrastructure – water, sanitation, school buildings etc. – when it comes to infusing human resources in the schools, the state’s lag is quite evident vis-a-vis even poor states like Bihar, Chhattigarh and Jharkhand.
What the data reveal is absolutely shocking: The percentage of children in standard 2 who could read letters has been progressively going down. It was 91.2 per cent in 2010, 88.7 per cent in 2011, 84.8 per cent in 2012, 80.9 per cent in 2013, and just about 75.7 per cent in 2014. Further, the percentage of children in class 3 who could read words has been similarly gong down – it was 77.6 per cent in 2010, 79.5 per cent in 2011, 70.5 per cent in 2012, 64.3 per cent in 2013, and 64.7 per cent in 2014.
Worse, the percentage of children in standard 4 who could read standard 2 text has been going down – it was 68.0 per cent in 2010, 64.8 per cent in 2011, 59.2 per cent in 2012, 62.2 per cent in 2013, and 58.3 per cent in 2014. As for the children of standard 5 who could read standard 2 text, it has remained almost constant – it was 45.5 per cent in 2010 and, after a slight improvement in the three subsequent years reaching 50.6 per cent in 2013, “settled down” to 46.5 per cent last year.
Coming to arithmetic, the situation is not found to be any better. Thus, the percentage of children in standard 2 who could recognise 1 to 9 numbers was 89.2 per cent in 2010, 87.6 per cent in 2011, 83.0 per cent in 2012, 82.8 per cent in 2013, and 76.4 per cent in 2014. As for the percentage of children in standard 3, who could recognise numbers 10 to 99, they were 69.5 per cent in 2010, 68.0 per cent in 2011, 55.6 per cent in 2012, 51.8 per cent in 2013, and 51.7 per cent in 2014.
Coming to the class 4 children who could subtract, the reduction is even more drastic – it was 49.1 per cent in 2010, 44.7 per cent in 2011, 32.7 per cent in 2012, 34.4 per cent in 2013, and 29.5 per cent in 2014. Further, as for class five children who could do division, it was 21.6 per cent in per cent in 2010, 22.6 per cent in 2011, 13.9 per cent in 2012, 17.1 per cent in 2013, and 16.1 per cent in 2014.
Kanya Kelavni a flopshow
The standards remain poor despite the fact that, according to ASER, in the age group 7 to 10, just about 1.7 per cent of boys and even lesser number of girls, 1.3 per cent, were found to be “not in school.” Things were found to change for the worse at the higher primary level. Thus, in the age group 11 to 14, 3.6 per cent boys and 7.6 per cent girls were were found to be “not in school.” At the secondary level, things were found to have worsened even further: In the age group 15-16, 16.8 per cent of boys and 30.2 per cent girls were found to be “not in school”. ASER defines “not in school” as those who have been dropped out plus whose who never been enrolled in schools.
Gujarat is, in fact, among the worst in enrolling the girl child. State-wise distribution of “not-in-school” girls in the age-group 11 to 14 is Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana) 5.2 per cent, Assam 4.1 per cent, Bihar 5.7 per cent, Chhattisgarh 3 per cent, Haryana 3.3 per cent, Himachal Pradesh 0.5 per cent, Jammu & Kashmir 4.2 per cent, Jharkhand 6.0 per cent, Karnataka 3.5 per cent, Kerala 0.2 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 6.2 per cent, Maharashtra 2.9 per cent, Odisha 4.7 per cent, Punjab 2.8 per cent, Rajasthan 12.1 per cent, Tamil Nadu 1.4 per cent, Uttarkhand 1.7 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 9.2 per cent, and West Bengal 3.6 per cent. Here, only two states do worse than Gujarat – Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
As for the age-group 15-16, Gujarat’s situation with regard to the girl child education is even worse. In fact, Gujarat has the second highest percentage of “not in school” girl children than the rest of India’s major states. The comparative percentage for other states is – Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana) 18.0 per cent, Assam 14.4 per cent, Bihar 15.6 per cent, Chhattisgarh 11.6 per cent, Haryana 11.3 per cent, Himachal Pradesh 3.2 per cent, Jammu & Kashmir 11.7 per cent, Jharkhand 17.6 per cent, Karnataka 12.4 per cent, Kerala 0.4 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 23.5 per cent, Maharashtra 9.3 per cent, Odisha 23.8 per cent, Punjab 9.1 per cent, Rajasthan 31.1 per cent, Tamil Nadu 6.8 per cent, Uttarakhand 9.5 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 22.7 per cent, and West Bengal 10.8 per cent. As one can see, Rajasthan is the only state with a worse record on this score.
Click HERE to download the Annual Status of Education Report 2014