Wednesday, 22 January 2014

State Kids Fare Poorly in Kannada, Maths

By Express News Service - BANGALORE

Published: 19th January 2014 08:42 AM

Last Updated: 19th January 2014 08:42 AM

·         Photos


Only 42.1 per cent of Class 5 students in Karnataka can read Kannada from textbooks used for Class 2 students.

Worse still, this trend of under-performance has worsened over the last five years with the figure falling by almost five per cent in government schools and a whopping 10 percent in private schools.

These worrying figures were revealed in the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2013, which was released recently. It has painted a dismal picture about the knowledge of Kannada and mathematics among school children in the State. Households and schools across 26 districts in Karnataka were surveyed.

Between Classes 1 and 8, just 35.3 per cent children can read Kannada textbooks from Class 2. Just 54.7 per cent of Class 6 kids can read Kannada textbooks they had studied four years ago. Similarly, just 35.2 percent of children in Class 3 can read Class 1 Kannada textbooks. The report points out that this is a fall of almost 9 per cent since 2009. About 24 per cent of Class 1 kids cannot read a single letter in Kannada.

The report notes that the situation is not too comforting as far as knowledge of mathematics goes as only 20.3 per cent of Class 8 can recognise numbers up to 99 but cannot subtract. Only 44.2 per cent can divide them. Among Class 7 students, only 38.1 percent can divide while 36.1 percent can subtract. 

The famed divide between government and private schools seems to vanish when it comes to under-perfomance in mathematics. Only 24.7 per cent of Class 3 kids in government schools can subtract and in private schools, it is 39 per cent. When it comes to Class 5 students, only 16.4 percent of kids in government schools and 25.3 percent in private schools know division.

Karnataka is below the national average when it comes to the ability to read a language, said Ranajit Bhattacharya, consultant at ASER. “Karnataka is below the national average of 47 per cent when it comes to Class 5 students reading a level 2 text. In arithmetic, only 18.2 per cent of the Class 8 students know division whereas across the country, 25.6 per cent can do so,” he said.

B S Sudhindra, former regional director for Indira Gandhi National Open University, noted that the existing textbook language in Karnataka was very difficult for students to understand.

“Topics like arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics must be presented in simple language. Our textbooks need reformatting. Many unnecessary steps and examples are taught. Lack of quality teachers and alarming teacher-to-student ratio is worsening the situation,” he explained.

Dr A S Seetharamu, retired professor at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), said a large number of children in rural areas do not receive follow-up education at home. “Lack of practice in mathematics and language reduces their retention power. Competencies like division, subtraction and working with fractions and decimals and teaching a language requires continuous practice. Parents have to sit with their kids and teach them.

But in rural areas, where most parents are from agriculture and labour backgrounds, this is not possible,” he said, adding that he was not surprised by the findings.


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