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Madhya Pradesh witnesses an alarming drop in Reading skills in Students, ranks among India’s lowest

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Girl child studying in an open school in Wikimedia

Delhi, Jan 10, 2017:  Reading and some math skills of Madhya Pradesh students are among India’s lowest, the transition rate to higher classes is lower than the national average. A majority of classrooms are shared by students of different grades, and government elementary schools are 17.6 per cent short of school teachers, according an analysis of various government data.

The literacy rate in Madhya Pradesh at 72.6 million, the fifth-largest state by population — was ninth lowest, at 70.6 per cent, in 2011. This was an increase of 6.86 percentage points from 2001 –the second-lowest increase among BIMARU states.

Learning levels in rural Madhya Pradesh are among India’s worst. Only 34 per cent of all children surveyed in Grade 5 in rural areas could read a Grade 2 level text, the second-lowest across all states — behind only Assam — according to the 2014 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), and the proportion of Grade 5 children who could at least subtract was 31 per cent, the lowest in India.

The proportion of children in Grade 3 who could read at least words declined from 80 per cent in 2010 to 32 per cent in 2014 in government schools; the corresponding decline in private schools was from 88 per cent in 2010 to 74 per cent in 2014.

The transition rate from primary (Grade 5) to upper primary (Grade 6) in Madhya Pradesh was 88.67 per cent in 2014-15, according to the Unified District Information System (U-DISE) Flash Statistics 2015-16 — below the all-India average of 90 per cent.

At the upper primary level, learning levels are worse. Only 18 per cent of Grade 7 students could read English sentences — the lowest in the country. Of those who could read, only 43 per cent could tell the meaning of the sentence — again the lowest, indicating that even students who transition to upper primary perform poorly in comparison with students in other states.

Of six million teaching positions in government schools nationwide, about 900,000 elementary school teaching positions and 100,000 in secondary school — put together, a million — are vacant, according to an answer given in the Lok Sabha. About 17.6 per cent of all elementary teaching positions — nearly 64,000 — in government schools in Madhya Pradesh are vacant.

As many as 78 per cent schools surveyed had children from Grade 2 sharing a classroom with other grades, an increase from 67 per cent in 2010, according to the ASER 2014 report.

Similarly, the proportion of schools where Grade 4 children shared a classroom with other grades increased from 57 per cent in 2010 to 69 per cent in 2014.

As several grades study in one classroom with the same teacher or teachers, more training, and different kinds of pedagogy, would have to be used to reach every child, according to an ASER 2011 report. The Right to Education (RTE) Act does not specify any regulations for multi-grade classrooms, and it is possible that schools provide few teachers with special training to equip them to teach in multi-grade classrooms.

Overall, few teachers receive in-service training. No more than 7.13 per cent of the state’s teachers (including contractual teachers) got in-service training in 2013-14; the Indian average was 18.34 per cent, according to U-DISE data.

Public expenditure on elementary education (Grade 1 to Grade 8) per student increased by 50 per cent between 2011-12 and 2014-15, but this increase was mainly due to the decline in enrolment than any increase in real expenditure, the Economic and Political Weekly reported in September 2016.

The enrolment at primary level (Grade 1 to 5) declined from 10.7 million in 2010-11 to 8.67 million in 2014-15, a decline of 18.97 per cent, according to U-DISE data, mostly because fewer children enrol in primary school at the wrong age — raising the per student spending in the state.

The primary school Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) — which is the proportion of students enrolled to the proportion of primary-school age children — was 136.7 in 2010-11, which fell to 101.11 at primary level in 2014-15, according to U-DISE data. The GER can be greater than 100 if children not of primary-school age enrol in primary school.

For upper primary school, gross enrolment has fallen below 100 per cent; that is, not all students of upper-primary school-age enrol in school. The gross upper primary school enrolment dropped from 102.1 in 2010-11 to 96.6 in 2014-2015, according to U-DISE data.

As many as 70 per cent of RTE quota seats were not filled in Madhya Pradesh. The RTE Act (2009) requires that one quarter of all seats be reserved for free schooling to the poorest students in all private, unaided primary schools.

Only 170,000 students were admitted on the RTE quota in 2016, although more than 420,000 seats were reserved. The shortfall is attributed, in part, to an online lottery system that parents found hard to use.

Delhi and Maharashtra also adopted a similar centralised online allotment of seats in private schools, according to one report. The report states that “although going online with the admission process appears to be a good move to improve transparency and efficiency… not all parents would be able to apply online for admissions, especially the ones coming from the lower strata of the society”.

Madhya Pradesh also revoked the “no-detention policy” in October 2016, allowing all government and private schools to hold back students in the same grade after Grade 5, due to the state’s declining quality of education, according to Deepak Joshi, Minister of State for School Education. Earlier, students would not repeat grades until Grade 8, except in schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education.  (IANS)

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Is Your Child Not Getting Enough Sleep Due to Early School Hours? He is at risk of Developing Depression and Anxiety, Says New Study

School timings not only affect the sleeping habits but also the daily functioning of the body, which can harm the child's physical and mental health

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Unhealthy sleeping patterns can lead to major health problems like obesity, heart disease and others in adulthood, Wikimedia

New York, October 9, 2017 : Is your child not getting ample sleep due to early school hours? Beware, your kid is more likely to develop depression and anxiety, warns a new study. The study reveals that children, who start schooling before 8:30 a.m., get insufficient sleep or barely meet the minimum amount of sleep, that is 8-10 hours, needed for healthy functioning of the body.

“Even when a student is doing everything else right to get a good night’s sleep, early school start times put more pressure on the sleep process and increase mental health symptoms, while later school start times appear to be a strong protective factor for teenager,” said Jack Peltz, Professor at the University of Rochester in the US.

School timings not only affect the sleeping habits but also the daily functioning of the body. It aggravates major health problems like obesity, heart disease and others in adulthood. The study, published in the journal Sleep Health, suggested that maintaining a consistent bedtime, getting between eight and 10 hours of sleep, limiting caffeine, turning off the television, cell phone and video games before bed may boost sleep quality as well as mental health.

ALSO READ Prolonged Depression Can Change Structure of Your Brain

The researchers used an online tool to collect data from 197 students across the country between the ages of 14 and 17. The results showed that good sleep hygiene was directly associated with lower average daily depressive or anxiety symptoms across all students.

The risk of depression was even lower in the students who started school after 8:30 a.m. in comparison to those who started early. “One possible explanation for the difference may be that earlier starting students have more pressure on them to get high quality sleep,” Peltz stressed. (IANS)

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Bullying and other forms of Victimization can Damage School Climate, says New Study

According to the study, bullying, cyber bullying and harassment were significantly associated with decreases in perceptions of school safety, connection, and equity

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The new study suggests that female and transgender students are more vulnerable to multiple forms of victimization. Wikimedia

New York, October 8, 2017 :  Researchers have found that all forms of victimization – bullying, cyber bullying and harassment – can damage the entire school climate.

The study, published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, measured the impact of poly-victimization – exposure to multiple forms of victimization – on school climate at the middle- and high-school levels.

ALSO READ Childhood bullying may have lifelong Health effects related to chronic stress exposure

The results showed that bullying, cyber bullying and harassment were significantly associated with decreases in perceptions of school safety, connection, and equity.

“For each form of victimization, school climate measures go down precipitously, so if we only center the conversation about kids who are being bullied that limits it to ‘that’s not my kid’,” said study author Bernice Garnett, Associate Professor at University of Vermont in the US.

“But if we change the conversation to bullying can actually damage the entire school climate, then that motivates and galvanises the overall will of the school community to do something about it,” Garnett added.

Based on data from the 2015 Vermont Middle and High School Pilot Climate Survey, the findings highlight the need for comprehensive policies that address all forms of victimization to offset further erosion to safe and equitable school environments, which is tied to educational outcomes.

Overall, 43.1 per cent of students experienced at least one form of victimization during the 2015-2016 school year.

Just over 32 per cent of students reported being bullied, 21 percent were victims of cyber bullying and 16.4 per cent experienced harassment – defined as “experiencing negative actions from one or more persons because of his or her skin, religion, where they are from (what country), sex, sexual identity or disability.”

Prior research had shown that students from vulnerable populations are most frequently victimized.

The new study found female and transgender students were more vulnerable to poly-victimization. (IANS)

 

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Strange Rituals: Demon King Ravana is Worshipped on Dussehra

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Effigy of Ravana burns. Dussehra. Wikimedia

Sep 30, 2017: Vijayadashami or Dussehra is celebrated with fervor at the end of Navratri every year. The festival is observed by burning the puppet of King Ravana. While at some places, the celebration of good over evil is celebrated by burning effigy of the demon king, there are some places where Ravana is worshipped on this occasion. It is predisposed amongst the followers that all their wishes come true on this day.

Also Read: Ram and Ravana Have More In Common Than You Think: 5 Traits of the Anti-Hero Ravana That You Must Learn | Dussehra Special

Every year on Dussehra, the 125-year-old Dashanan temple in Shivala area of Kanpur is opened for its devotees. An idol of King Ravana is ornamented, and aarti is performed. Devotees perform religious rituals and light lamps to celebrate the festival. The temple remains closed following the burning of Ravana’s statue.

Dashanan Temple was constructed in 1890 by king Guru Prasad Shukl. The rationale behind the construction of Dashanan temple was Ravana’s adherence towards Lord Shiva.

King Ravana is worshipped at many places in India, for example: In Andhra Pradesh’s Kakinada, a huge shivalinga established by Ravana is revered along with the demon-king. Vidisha, a village in Madhya Pradesh is dedicated to King Ravana. In this village, the first wedding card invitation is sent to Ravana before the commencement of any celebration. Neither the devotees burn dummies of King Ravana, nor do they celebrate Dussehra.