Odisha govt presses ‘time’ key as Learning outcomes dip in govt schools during last decade

Though 36 % students of Std V in govt schools could perform simple mathematical tasks like subtraction in 2008, the number dropped to 24 % in 2018

Bhubaneswar: In order to give a boost to weak learning outcomes in English, Arithmetic and Science subjects in the government schools vis-a-vis the private schools, the Odisha School & Mass Education (S&ME) Department has decided to increase the duration of the time allotted for the three subjects in the school curriculum up to class IX.

The new S&ME minister Samir Dash has very clearly explained the rationale behind government’s decision. “A review of the exam results has shown how owing to poor scoring in Maths, Science and English, most students either had failed or secured poor marks in the class X exams. Post deliberations, the S&ME department has decided to give more emphasis on the subjects. The duration of classes for the subjects have been increased,” he informed.

A reality check of the learning outcomes in government schools gives a clear perspective.

The big revelation of ASER 2018, released this year, is during the last decade (2008-18) the learning outcomes in government schools have deteriorated. When nearly 60 per cent of Std V children in government schools were able to read Std II text in 2008, the proportion in 2018 stood at 56 per cent.

Also, when 36 per cent children of Std V in government schools could perform the simple mathematical tasks like subtraction in 2008, it dropped to 24 per cent in 2018.

The report shows that when a mere 35 per cent of children in Standard III in government schools could read Std II text, the figures in private schools stood at a massive 64 per cent in 2018.

Similarly, in comparison to 49 per cent in private schools, only 28 per cent of Std III children can perform the arithmetic tasks like subtraction in government schools.

The more ominous facts the ASER report revealed were: Only 20 per cent students reading Std -X in Odisha could perform the arithmetic tasks like ‘discounts’. Moreover, only 29 per cent in the age – group of 14-16 years in Odisha could calculate time.

Will govt pressing the ‘time’ button help? Worldwide studies have documented that this ‘reform’ will help poor students, who don’t have the wherewithal to harness education resources outside the school.

However, the studies concede that its success hinges on teacher’s capacity and other related education reforms. A reform of this kind in isolation cannot prove a success, observed US Research Centre.