School enrolment levels improve, learning levels decline in India

school-enrolmentNew Delhi, (IANS) Even though school enrolment levels have significantly improved over the last 10 years in India, there has been a decline in the learning levels over the time, said Pratham Education Foundation CEO Rukmini Banerji.

Delivering a lecture on “Challenges in Indian Education: Lessons from Asia” at Indian Habitat Centre here on Saturday, Banerji said that despite an increase in expenditure on education, things have not improved in terms of quality of education.

“Enrolment levels in schools are well over 95 per cent in India, and more and more children are completing more and more years of schooling.

“But basic learning levels in reading and arithmetic are low and there has been a decline in the learning levels over time,” she said.

She said that enrolment in class VIII has gone from 12 million to 24 million in the last 10 years across the country.

“But learning trajectories, the gains in learning levels over a period of school education, are relatively flat,” Banerji said.

She said that while there may be multiple reasons responsible for that, there is a tendency in schools to direct teaching only at the “top of the class”.

“Also, in India, the system is more oriented at syllabus than learning,” she added.

Banerji said we need to educate ourselves about education models prevalent in other countries and use them in a way that suits our context.

“We have better links with other countries when it comes to trade or military cooperation, but not so when it comes to education,” she said.

The lecture was a part of the Changing Asia Series.

Medaram Jathara

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