Should India follow this Gujarat model?

By Rajiv Shah
The Annual Survey 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 in rural Gujarat. Instead of showing any improvement, Pratham surveyors found them to be progressively declining, despite the annual Gunotsav festival for alleviating the poor quality of education. Gunotsav has been going on in Gujarat for the last five years.
ASER further found that things are no better with regard to girl child education, sought to be promoted through the Kanya Kelavni enrollment drive, which began three years after Narendra Modi took over reins of power as chief minister – in 2004. 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 well in providing basic school infrastructure – water, sanitation, rooms, boundary wall – when it comes to infusing human resources in schools, the state’s lag is rather evident vis-a-vis even poorer states like Bihar, Chhattigarh and Jharkhand.
What the data reveal should be shocking for policy makers, who have been conducting the two festivals over the years with the direct participation of thousands of babus, 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 also been 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 no 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 standard 4, the children who could subtract, the slide 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. As for standard 5 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.
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 less girls, 1.3 per cent, were “not in school.” But things were found to change for the worse at the higher primary level. In the age group 11 to 14, 3.6 per cent boys and 7.6 per cent girls were “not in school.” At the secondary level, things worsened: In the age group 15-16, 16.8 per cent of boys and 30.2 per cent girls were “not in school”. ASER defines “not in school” as those who have been dropped out plus whose who were never enrolled.
Gujarat is, in fact, among worst states 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, one can see, only two states do worse than Gujarat – Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
As for the age-group 15-16, Gujarat’s situation with regard to girl child education is worse with the second highest percentage of “not in school” girl children than the rest of India’s major states. The comparative percentage 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, Uttarakhand 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 in enrolling girls at the secondary level.

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