Have we ensured the quality of elementary Education being provided to children? : Findings by the Pratham Organization (ASER Team)
With the passage of the Right to Education act in 2009 and the historic progress we have seen especially in the elementary education should bring laurels to our country. The enrollment ratio in the elementary school has crossed a level of 90%, the various incentives are being provided to the children to attend the schools. Availability of the school in every Km in the inhabited area is also ensured. The other most important thing that got little attention over the time was the least attention given to the term ‘Quality’ education to be provided to the children. This has to be ensured that only increasing the enrollment ratio is not the only thing for which we are thriving for, we have to ensure that the main role of education that to develop the reading skills of the common people. In this case the efforts of Pratham boasting itself of being the largest non governmental organization working to provide quality education to the underprivileged children of India.The leader of the ASER team Dr. Rukimini Banerji who recently got Maulana Abdul Kalam Shiksha Purashkar from the Honorable chief minister of Bihar for her tireless effort of measuring the impact of the elementary education in Bihar. Despite the increasing enrollment ratio and positive bonhomie produced by the educational campaign it is worth to speak about what is actually happening to the children in the school. The assessment procedure will measure the ability of the children to read the simple sentences in their regional language like ‘I go to school’. To the utter dismay and shock of the team around 50% of the children were not able to read the simple sentences like this, the situation becomes more horrible when we are talking about the grade Vth student. The situation becomes more worrisome when we extrapolate it for the whole young of population of India that is for 200 million children. The solution that was implemented by the ASER team was from the very basic level that is to devote time for the improvement in the reading ability of the children that consisted of first ensuring that large number of the children are sent to school, along with working the elementary school teacher to improve the reading ability of the children and spend a considerable time in the home of the children to improve the reading capacity of the children. The team has also implemented the policy of the picking out of the educated people in the village and encouraging them to impart the education in the younger generation. In around 350 districts around one or two such elders have been appointed to work towards the improvement in the educational status of the children. The iterative formulae that have been applied by the team consisted of basic thing that unless we do not give time to improve the educational status we can not achieve our target. With the help of teachers and volunteers the children were provided with the reading materials and were distributed at the cheapest cost. The ASER team is also coordinating with the various state level and central team to assist in the development and formulation of the policy to increase the literacy rate.
Some of the finding of the ASER team particularly in the state of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh include a jump in the Std III children able to read the Std I text book (the jump is from 31% to 70% in the year 2007 and 2008 respectively). The other finding is that Mahya Pradesh, Kerala, Chattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh are the states that lead the country in terms of the children’s basic reading fluency. In the state of Chattisgarh and Mahya Pradesh the proportion of the children have increased that can identify the numerals from 1-9. The 61% children in India can tell the time exactly. Primary School are available in 92.5% of the rural habitation, 67% of the village have government middle school and 33% of the school have government secondary school. The finding also includes that electrical connection are available in 65% of the household and pukka roads connect 71% of the villages.