Declining Learning Outcomes
The district-wise data from the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2017 is a wake-up call to the Central and state governments. It indicates that education in government schools is failing to equip a majority of children for academic rigours of higher education or confidence to acquire skills and pursue gainful employment. The data also reveals aspirations at work, of girls outshining boys, rural schools bettering urban ones, OBCs outperforming general category, and Dalit students doing better than others in primary classes in some pockets.
Although experts say those with resources have migrated to private schools leaving mostly OBC, Dalit, Adivasi and poor students in government schools, this is also a great window of opportunity for weaker sections of society. This urge to learn and venture outside traditional occupations makes it incumbent upon governments to not let down first generation learners. Unfortunately, while there has been a great emphasis on assessments in the past decade and we now have a wealth of data from these studies, it all points to declining learning outcomes.
NAS 2017 shows Class III, V and VII students tested on subjects like math, language and science suffer declining learning outcomes, with higher classes scoring fewer marks. Weaknesses in primary education are getting amplified as students move to higher classes. Clearly, more teachers are needed and they need better training. Curriculum and study materials must have coverage with capacities of teachers and students. But is any of this being done? The time for assessment is over; now implementation must start.
The elementary decision to crack down on cheating forced 10 lakh UP board students to drop out of Class X and XII examinations. But stopping mass cheating was the easier part. Such mass dropouts underline a crying need to improve teaching and learning systems, especially as technological disruption through automation and robotics, is poised to eliminate many lakh unskilled jobs. We also have the likes of 16-year-old Harshita Arora from Saharanpur, UP, who left school to pursue alternative computer education and developed a popular mobile app monitoring cryptocurrency price fluctuations. Her story suggests all the potential that can be unlocked if the education system is rapidly upgraded.
If funding, institutional will, and trained teachers can plug into aspirations, results will show. Education, like livelihoods, must become an election issue.
Satish Kumar Sarma,
The all-time greatest scam in Assam’s history, APSC scam, committed silently during the erstwhile Congress regime under Torun Gogoi and company is slowly unearthing many spine-chilling facts almost daily. The latest disclosure of the names of the fraudsters which included the name of BJP MP from Tezpur RP Sarmah’s daughter has made us believe that the present government under Sarbananda Sonowal is showing zero tolerance towards corruption. This is a healthy sign. It also makes us wonder how come Rakesh Pal, Chairman APSC could run his ‘APSC shop’ without the patronage of then Chief Minister Torun Gogoi. It is very logical to demand RP Sarmah’s resignation by Ripun Bora but at the same time it is also very logical that Torun Gogoi and Ripun Bora quit State’s politics.
Lanu Dutta Chowdhury,
GNB Road, Guwahati.