By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, January 29: A recent study has painted a gloomy picture of school education in the State. Even though primary education in the age group 6–14 has been made free and compulsory in the country with education being a fundamental right, 3.2 per cent of children in this age group in Assam are still ‘not in school’.
On the other hand, the growing exodus to private schools in the State can be gauged from the finding that around 17.3 per cent children between 6 to 14 years of age are enrolled in such schools. This is stated in the ‘Annual Status of Education Report 2014’, facilitated by the Pratham NGO and released in New Delhi recently.
What is more, the percentage of ‘not in school’ students has shown an increase with age. In the age group 15–16, around 17.1 per cent of the students were reported to be not in school. Interestingly, in both the 6–14 and 15–16 categories, the percentage of boys is more, indicating that the trend is not due to any social stigma but a result of lack of awareness.
‘Not–in–school’, according to the study, includes both dropped–out and never enrolled children.
The study also noted the poor quality of school education in the State.
According to the study, 48 per cent of children in Class I do not recognize the alphabets fully. Only 15.3 percent children in Class I can read a word, both in government and private schools.
Even in Class III level, 14.7 per cent of the children do not recognize alphabets fully.
There are 3.6 percent students in Class VI who do not recognize the alphabets fully. The percentage of such students in Class VII and VIII is 2.6 and 2 respectively.
Only 42.5 per cent of the children in Class I can identify numerals from 1 to 9.
Only around 24.6 per cent students in Class VIII can do division.
In ASER, all students are assessed using the same tool.
The study is a grim reminder that despite tall claims by successive Education ministers of the State, the level of school education in Assam still remains dismal. While the State government has done little to reduce the number of out–of–school children, it seems that even those who are in school do not necessarily get proper and quality education.