Monday, February 7, 2011

Bridging the gap in education


NGO provides data on education to help policy makers

Sopan Correspondent / New Delhi

“For the past five years, Pratham has undertaken this annual exercise of assessing and evaluating the outcomes of education of our children across the length and breadth of the country. As a huge non governmental citizen-focused effort involving over 25,000 volunteers and covering over 700,000 children in 15,000 villages each year, it demonstrates that the well being of our children is not just the government’s responsibility, and that citizens can and should do more to initiate, propel and direct public policy towards public good,” Vice President Hamid Ansari said on the occasion of release of the report on The Annual Status of Education Report, ASER 2010.

Pratham is the largest non governmental organisation working to provide quality education to the underprivileged children of India. Pratham was established in 1994 to provide education to the children in the slums of Mumbai city. Since then, the organization has grown both in scope and geographical coverage.

Today it reaches out to millions of children living both in rural and urban areas through a range of interventions. The Pratham team comprises of experts in every field who all bring their experiences and perspectives to the organsiation and are unified by the common vision of improving the future of our children.

Madhav Chavan, CEO Pratham Education Foundation, Rukmini Banerji, Director ASER Centre, Ajay Piramal, Chairman, Pratham Education Foundation, Surjit Bhalla, Yogendra Yadav and Dhir Jhingran were the other speakers at the function.

Conducted every year since 2005, ASER is the largest annual survey of children in rural India. Facilitated by Pratham, ASER is conducted by local organizations and concerned citizens. It finds out whether children in rural India go to school, how well they can read in their own language and whether they can do basic arithmetic.

Key findings

Enrollment: In 2010, ASER found that 96.5% of children in the 6 to 14 age group in rural India are enrolled in school. While 71.1% of these children are enrolled in government schools, 24.3 % are enrolled in private schools. 5.9% of girls in the 11-14 age group are still out of school. In Bihar the percentage of out of school girls and boys in all age groups has been declining steadily since 2005.

Enrollment in private schools in rural India increased from 21.8% in 2009 to 24.3% in 2010. The percentage of five year olds enrolled in schools increased from 54.6% in 2009 to 62.8% in 2010. Even after five years in school, close to half of all children are not even at the level expected of them after two years in school. Only 53.4% children in Std V could read a Std II level text. On average, there has been a decrease in children’s ability to do simple mathematics.

A clear decrease is seen in the incidence of tuition among children enrolled in private schools across all classes up to Std VIII. ASER 2010 found that over 60% of the 13,000 schools visited satisfied the infrastructure norms specified by the RTE. However, more than half of these schools will need more teachers. A third will need more classrooms.

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