Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: Status of elementary education continues to be poor in Odisha despite the fact that the State government is striving to improve the quality of education by announcing several programmes.

According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), less than 21% of students in Class 3 in Odisha could read words.

While most of the Indian States spent more on education per student in 2014-15, Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government had reduced spending per elementary school student by 3% between 2011 and 2015.

Meanwhile, this poor state of affairs in elementary education is not new for Odisha. The State had spent Rs 23,194 crore in just five years, from 2009 to 2014, but the enrolment at elementary stage tanked from 66.21 lakh in 2009-10 to 63.88 lakh in 2013-14. Besides, 3.06 lakh children reportedly left schools after primary stage during 2009-14.

Despite huge investments being made towards schemes like Mid Day Meal, free uniform and text books, School and Mass Education department has failed to attract students due to lack of proper planning and implementation of the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

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On the other hand, states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand spent more on education per elementary school student in 2014-15 as against 2011-12 but failed in making any improvement.