Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The recently published Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2023 has depicted a sorry state of education in rural areas of Odisha.

As per the survey report, around 64 per cent students of 14 to 18 years age group in Sambalpur district don’t know the division. Around 46 per cent students are not able to read a sentence correctly. Even, only 55.5 per cent students in the age group are able to read the texts of Class II.

Only 35.9 per cent students are able to do division in mathematics. Similarly, only 53.6 per cent students can read sentences in English correctly. Moreover, the number of students who are able to do subtraction in mathematics is also very poor.

ASER is a nationwide household survey that captures the status of children’s enrolment and learning outcomes in rural India. In ASER’s recent survey, reports have been published about 28 districts in the country including Sambalpur.

“We became poor in mathematics due to Covid-19 induced lockdown. We only passed the examinations, but couldn’t study properly due to the unprecedented situation,” said Priya Kudata, a student from Rairakhol in Sambalpur.

“Mathematics is all about practice. Our teachers are trying their best. However, students are relying too much on mobile phones. As a result, they are becoming poor in mathematics,” said a 10th-class student from Kuchinda.

Responding to the poor state of education, educationists are of the opinion that the situation is more or less the same across the country.

“Students are able to solve their problems easily through Digital India. Hence, they are not reliant on teachers anymore. They are also lacking practice in mathematics. As a result, students are becoming poor in their studies,” said Surendra Biswal, an educationist.

ASER has published the report based on the opinions of 34,754 students from the 14-18 years age group in nine blocks of Sambalpur district.

As per the survey report, 78.1 percent of children in this age group have taken admissions in some educational institutions. Among them, 5.2 percent of students have taken admissions in technical education. However, questions have been raised about the state of the educational system in Odisha following the publication of the ASER survey report 2023.

Responding to the survey report, the District Education Officer of Sambalpur, Minarani Mangal said that proper steps will be taken following its review.

“The report has been prepared based on the sample survey method. I don’t think the report stating that students are so poor in mathematics is fully correct. We will ask ASER to provide us complete information in this regard. After receiving all the information, we will analyze and review it in a meeting and take proper action,” said Mangal.