Parents expecting better learning outcomes for their children enrolled in India’s many rural private schools could be left disappointed as over 60 percent students in these schools cannot do three-digit divisions and more than 30 percent cannot read a ‘Grade 2’ level paragraph, a report released by the Central Square Foundation has revealed.
Banking on data from the National Achievement Survey (NAS), the report, titled ‘State of the Sector’, goes on say that the lack of foundational knowledge for private school students in rural areas ultimately affects their performance in class 10 board exams.
The report also adds that although literacy levels have remained ‘largely stable’, an analysis of long-term trends from the Annual Status of Education Report shows there has been a decline in arithmetic skills among students of class 5 enrolled in rural private schools.
According to the report, the percentage of students who could solve a simple division problem declined by 7.1 percentage points from 47.1 percent in 2008 to 40 percent in 2018.
While at 7.2 percent, Meghalaya has the lowest number of students who could solve simple division problems, at 56.6 percent, Himachal Pradesh has the highest number of students who could do the same.
When it comes to private education, those in the rural areas are worst-hit as around 53 percent in less-developed villages cannot read a paragraph, while around 61 cannot do a simple subtraction.
However, in urban private schools, over 60 percent students can both read a paragraph and solve a simple problem of subtraction.
With over 11.9 crore students across 4.6 lakh schools, private schools in the country account for 47.5 percent of students in the country. While privately aided schools – privately owned, but financially supported by the government – account for 2.8 crore students, private unaided schools account for 8.7 crore students across 3.5 lakh schools.
While in 2017-2018, 73 percent of urban students studied outside government-run schools, around 35.4 percent students were enrolled in private schools in rural areas.
While only 12.67 percent students in West Bengal are enrolled in private schools, the percentage for the same stands at 83.81 percent in Goa.
According to a 2014 National Sample Survey Organisation data, over 73 percent of parents choose private schools based on the perception of them providing better education, while 12 percent listed English-medium education as a possible reason.
Citing a U-DISE 2019 report, the study also delves into the impact of India’s complex caste system on enrollment rates in private schools across the country. While 67 percent students from forward castes are enrolled in private schools, only 25 percent scheduled caste students and 17.2 percent scheduled tribe students are enrolled in private schools.
Further, while the enrollment of girls in private unaided schools stands at 32 percent, the same for boys stands at 38 percent. However, in government schools the percentage of girls stands at 55.7 percent, while same for boys stands at 49.5 percent.