After almost three years of consistent improvement in government school education in Punjab, here comes the dampener. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2012 released in New Delhi Thursday showed Punjab slipping. Punjab has lost students to private schools, shown only a marginal improvement in reducing the number of “out of school” children and the standard of reading Punjabi, English and solving basic math sums is back to where it all began in 2009.
The most worrying figures are of the “not in school” girls. The ASER report shows that the number of girls in the 15-16 years age group who were not in school was as high as 10 per cent pointing towards a severe drop out among girl students after class X. this despite the fact that the number of out of schools girls in the age (11-14 years) has decreased from 5 per cent in 2006 to 2 per cent in 2012.
There has been a very high intake of students by private schools this year touching the 50 per cent figure. In 2008, private schools had mopped up 50 per cent of the students entering class II. The number reduced sharply in 2009 going to about 30 per cent. However ever since it has continued to increase showing the revived interest of parents in admitting their children to private schools. In higher classes too, there is a revival of private school education in rural areas in the state.
The report is also not encouraging when it comes to the quality of education being imparted. Only 40 per cent of the students who were in class III could read a standard II text book in Punjabi. In standard II only 16.5 per cent could read their class text book.
The report further points out that while the standard of learning in government school consistently improved since 2009, in 2012 it slumped. For instance, the percentage of children in class III who could read a Class I level Punjabi text book in government schools was as low as 42 per cent in 2009. It increased to over 50 per cent in 2010 and to 58 per cent in 2011. However in 2012 it is now back to a little over 50 per cent. Compared to government schools, private schools have 70 per cent children in class III being able to read a class I text book.