While the reading skill of schoolchildren nationwide has seen a steep drop, Tamil Nadu has shown a positive performance in this regard. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2014 has pointed out that an average of 48.1 percent of Class V children could read properly a Class II- level text. This is an improvement from the 47 percent recorded in 2013. The percentage has shot up to staggering 46.9% from last year’s 31.9% in Tamil Nadu.
The reading skills in Himachal Pradesh (75.2%) and Haryana (68.1%) are higher among other states, but they haven’t showed any improvement in their score from the last year. The survey was conducted by a Non-governmental organization named Pratham. The situation of Assam, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh are worst, where less than 35% of the class V children surveyed were able to read a class II-level text.
Director of School Education, Tamil Nadu, K. Devarajan said, “During 2012 and 2013 adequate recruitments had resulted in the improvements in the state. In the past two years, 40,000 teachers have been recruited and teachers focus on weaker students. This, along with the incentives and teaching tools, has made a difference.”
ASER head Rukmini Banerji said, “The survey does not collect data on reasons for the changes. However, I can say that in the past two years, Tamil Nadu focused a lot on improving the basics in Tamil and Maths in classes I and II. It may also be the case that the activity-based learning in government schools is giving results now.”
She further added, “Several States have programmes to teach children, irrespective of the class they are in, basics that they have not yet understood. That is the way forward. Sticking to the syllabus will not help those who are left behind.”