For 94% of the primary students in India, English is an alien language. And this is official.
A study conducted by the Programme Evaluation Organisation (PEO) of the Planning Commission has revealed that 94 per cent of the students in primary schools across the country cannot recognise the English alphabets. This reality check is major setback for prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s UPA government that has embarked on a major initiative to universalise primary education, and grant the right to education.
The ‘Programme Evaluation Organization’ (PEO) headed by deputy chairman Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia has come out with this data through an evaluation study of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in order to assess its impact.
As a part of the study a reading test was conducted by the PEO in primary schools spread over eleven states and it emerged that only 6% of primary students can identify English alphabets. But hardly any student of Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh and Assam could pass this test. This inability is restricted not just to English, but to regional languages as well. Only 42% of the children were able to read the local language alphabets correctly and 80% could identify numbers.
According to the report, because of the poor quality of teaching, the failure rate of students in Class I and II is high in states like Madhya Pradesh and Assam — 17.21% and 13.46% respectively. However, almost 21% students in Haryana and 16 per cent in Rajasthan don’t appear for examinations,the report said.
There are some reasons behind this grim picture. The SSA norms of stipulate that there should be at least two teachers per school, but 7.2 % of the schools have just one teacher school and nearly 30% of the schools do not have more than two teachers.
It was also observed that in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, more than 90% of the teachers were involved in non teaching activities.