[Assam] From Outlook India
cmahanta at charter.net
Fri Sep 22 17:01:05 EDT 2006
This in the land of Bangalore?
The A,B,C Abyss
Karnataka's primary school education has bottomed out
K For Can't
* Karnataka ranks below Bimaru states on learning index
* Ranks fourth from bottom in reading abilities, and is
at the bottom in math skills
* 52.9% kids in 7-10 age group can't read a simple paragraph
* The problem is common to government/private schools
Following the International Literacy Day jamboree on September 8, the
coalition government here has been taking out huge ads trumpeting its
achievements in the area of primary and secondary education. If the
propaganda machine is to be believed, the JD(S)-BJP coalition has
released Rs 5,103 crore for the education sector.
The funding and intentions seem impressive. But data thrown up in the
latest Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) India for rural
Karnataka tells a rather different, grim story. A survey covering
15,628 children in 540 villages and 534 schools across the state's 27
districts found that 52.9 per cent of the children in the 7-10 age
group can't read even a simple small paragraph (Level 1) and 72.5 per
cent cannot read a story (Level 2). And 59.7 per cent cannot solve
numerical sums of subtraction and 90.6 per cent cannot do simple
While the all-India statistics spelled out in the ASER India report
is itself worrisome, the Karnataka data is shocking. The report is a
coordinated effort of Pratham Resource Centre with hundreds of ngos
working in the education sector across the nation. In Karnataka, the
survey was supported by 18 organisations, including the Azim Premji
According to the report, Karnataka ranks much below even 'Bimaru'
states like Bihar and Chhattisgarh on the learning index. Bihar fares
badly when it comes to school infrastructure, out-of-school-children
percentage and access to learning material, but its children manage
to top the nation's list when it comes to learning abilities. This
when out-of-school-children percentage was highest in the country at
13.5 per cent, while Karnataka's was just 1.9 per cent. Only about
52.4 per cent had access to textbooks in the eastern state's primary
schools, but in Karnataka nearly 90 per cent had access. Yet, when it
came to learning skills, Bihar's children came in fifth in the
country for reading skills and third for their arithmetic skills.
Karnataka occupied fourth place from the bottom when it came to
reading and took the last place in the country when it came to
"The huge surprise is that the situation in Karnataka, TN and Gujarat
is far worse than Bihar and Chhattisgarh.... The situation with
respect to mathematics is also alarming. IT hub Karnataka needs to
seriously think about the way mathematics is taught in
schools-government as well as private...," says the report.
The ASER data makes the feelgood nature of the state propaganda on
school education seem a bit bizarre. The government has declared its
intention to achieve 85 per cent literacy in the state by 2007. But
what about the quality of education imparted? If schoolkids at
primary level are not picking up basic reading or math skills, what
hope for the future when the syllabus gets tougher?
So is all the money the government is spending going down the drain?
Bhamy Shenoy, trustee of Pratham (Mysore) who helped put the ASER
report together, isn't optimistic: "This data would've made headlines
in any civilised country. Surprisingly, there is neither a mention
nor a statement by our state leadership." Karnataka education
minister Basavaraj Horatti, busy attending literacy rallies in rural
areas, was unavailable for comment.
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