The 10th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2014) was released on Tuesday, the 13th of January in New Delhi. According to the findings, while more than 96 per cent of the children in the 6-14 age group are attending school, there are still some worrying signs as reading and mathematical abilities are still not up to the mark. The situation with basic reading continues to be extremely disheartening in India. The report also states that only a fourth of all children studying in class 3 can read a class 2 text fluently. Even in class 5 only 50% of the students are able to read class 2 text.
The above excerpt clearly shows a very alarming trend in the field of education- that of the declining quality inspite of the increase in the quantity of students in the country. The survey further reveals other trends which are quite worrying. For example, the percentage of children in class 2 who still cannot recognise numbers up to 9 has increased over time, from 11.3% in 2009 to 19.5% in 2014. In some states the proportion of girls (age group 11-14) out of school remains greater than 8%. These states are Rajasthan (12.1%) and Uttar Pradesh (9.2%).
The increasingly desperate situation cannot be any different for our state- to put it in a positive way. Anyone with a basic understanding of the hopeless situation in the education sector in Manipur, if allowed to have their say, will surely express their nagging feelings that things are much worse than what the reports suggest, if only in Manipur, and there is little to hope for in the near future. Established private-run educational institutions have become a lucrative money spinning venture, and while the resentful parents and guardians lament the undesirable trend, they are forced to continue catering to the increasingly whimsical individuals running these institutions for the sole reason that the alternative is nothing less than condemning their wards to a life of regression and neglect. In fact, it would not be a surprise at all to find no takers in almost all of the government run educational institutions in half a decade from now. What is surprising is the fact that the state government is still apparently in a dilemma as to the way out of this quandary. Now that the earlier experiments and practices have obviously not produced the desired result or come even close to it, it is time to rethink and come up with a radically different strategy that can be implemented and, most importantly, be monitored and followed up vigorously. Perhaps, what is required is a new line of thinking, taking into consideration as to how the new generation perceives things. A fresh new perspective might offer a more practical and pragmatic solution to the problem which is threatening to leave the future generation behind in today’s unrelenting rat-race for development and progress. Perhaps, the solution lies in answering the simple question- how does these private schools and institutions, even when accused of fleecing the students and their parents and guardians, managed to develop in leaps and bounds and produce toppers year in and year out? Surely, they must also be doing something right.