The latest ASER ( Annual Status of Education Report) report published by Pratham, an NGO, paints a very grim picture of educational quality in government schools even as there has been a steady increase in private school enrollment. The data highlight two points — India’s aspirations of becoming a knowledge economy look misplaced and the UPA government doesn't have much to boast of when it comes to education.
The quality of learning as measured by 3 R's Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic has been either stagnant or falling during the UPA government’s rule. The number of Class 5 children who can read a Class 2 level book has declined by 15 % since 2005 while the number of Class 8 students who can do divisions has declined by 23 % in the same period. Right now, only 33% of all Class 5 students can read the Class 2 books, down from 66% in 2005. Still, the school enrolments have improved with 97% children now in schools, compared with 93% in 2005.
Interestingly, the primary school enrolment in private schools was about 17% in 2005 but by 2013, the figure shot up to 29%. The survey carried out in 550 rural districts finds that even the Right To Education (RTE) has focused on enrolment at the expense of quality.
In some states such as Manipur and Kerala, nearly 70% of the students are in private schools. Even in Uttar Pradesh, the proportion is close to 50%. In states with high governmnet school enrollments, more students depend on private tuitions to supplement school learning. For example, in Bihar and Odisha, where only 8.4% and 7.3% students are in private schools, respectively, more than half of them attend private tuitions.