A study done by ASER Centre in collaboration with MHRD, UNICEF and UNESCO on teaching and learning in government schools. The study covers 5 states (AP, Assam, Jharkhand, HP, Rajasthan) with about 29,000 children and 1,800 teachers assessed in 900 schools and 22,000 households visited.
We recently shared the preliminary results with the JS of MHRD, who has asked to organize a dissemination forum and policy brief to share results with state Secretaries of Education as well as other national actors. This will also feed into the 12th 5 Year Planning process and the work of the Sub-Group on Elementary Education. We have attached the presentation made at MHRD.
Some of the most significant findings are:
· 40% of children surveyed are first generation school goers
· Less than 5% of homes have any print material other than a calendar or religious text, so children do not even have materials to read at home
· Children are learning in the course of a year, but even in states with highest level of learning outcomes, children’s learning levels are far behind expected
· Children whose home language is different than school language learn less.
· At each grade level, children’s starting point is well below that of textbooks.
· Attendance is the most important factor for children’s learning
· Average number of children present in each classroom is low, but most classrooms are multigrade.
· Child-friendly practices, such as students asking questions, teachers smiling with children, using local examples to explain lessons, small group work, have a significant impact on children’s learning.
· In classrooms that have a number of these factors, children learn more and far fewer children fall into the lowest levels of learning. Mean classroom scores improve steadily as ‘child-friendliness’ increases.
· Teachers can spot common mistakes, but have difficulty explaining how to do it the right way.
· Teacher qualification/degree, length of training, and number of years of experience did not show much different in children’s learning.
Key policy recommendations based on this evidence are:
· Textbooks need urgent revisions (which also contains technical content which is relatively advanced for Standards 1 and 2). They need to start from what children can do and be more realistic and developmentally appropriate in what children are expected to learn in a year with clear learning goals and sequence.
· Systems must be put into place to track daily attendance, not just enrollment, and ensure regular reporting and monitoring of this attendance.
· Mother tongue instruction and programmes for language transition need to be introduced and expanded.
· Teacher Eligibility Tests and other teacher recruitment policies need to assess teachers knowledge, but more importantly their ability to teach, to explain answers to children, to make information relevant to their lives and to use teaching learning materials other than the textbook for lessons and activities.
· Teacher Education must train all teachers to teach in a multi-grade setting without cutting the teaching-learning time allotted for each grade level. Teachers need to support to know how to to deal with groups that are very diverse in terms of grade, age, and ability level.
· Academic support structures, like Block and Cluster Resource Centres (BRC/CRC) and District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET), need reform to take on the role of helping improve teaching and learning quality thru in-service training and classroom visits. State teacher education plans should invest in the human resource capacity of these institutions and make concrete plans and actions to enable this role.
· As per RTE, indicators for child-friendly education need to be defined and measured regularly as a part of the markers of quality.
· Libraries, with take home books for reading practice at the household level, should be monitored as part of RTE indicators. Family reading programmes should also be part of innovations to help support 1st generation school goers.
A national dissemination forum is planned for September.