“Shortfalls In Educating Indian Children Constitute Learning Crisis”: World Bank

According to the ‘World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realise Education’s Promise’ that was released on Tuesday, India ranks second after Malawi in a list of 12 countries wherein a grade two student could not read a single word of a short text.

According to the report, India also tops the list of seven countries in which a grade two student could not perform two-digit subtraction.

The World Bank said, “In rural India, just under three-quarters of students in grade 3 could not solve a two-digit subtraction such as 46 minus 17, and by grade 5 half could still not do so.”

The report argued that without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all.

It further added, “Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math. This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them.”

Young students who are already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability reach young adulthood without even the most basic life skills, it said.

World Bank group president, Jim Yong Kim said, “This learning crisis is a moral and economic crisis.”

 “When delivered well, education promises young people employment, better earnings, good health, and a life without poverty,” he added.

The President commented, “For communities, education spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion. But these benefits depend on learning, and schooling without learning is a wasted opportunity. More than that, it’s a great injustice: the children whom societies fail the most are the ones who are most in need of a good education to succeed in life.”

In rural India in 2016, only half of grade 5 students could fluently read text at the level of the grade 2 curriculum, which included sentences.

“These severe shortfalls constitute a learning crisis,” the Bank report said.

According to the report, in Andhra Pradesh in 2010, low-performing students in grade 5 were no more likely to answer a grade 1 question correctly than those in grade 2.

The report said, “Even the average student in grade 5 had about a 50% chance of answering a grade 1 question correctly compared with about 40% in grade 2.”

 “This outcome makes sense - after all, literacy and numeracy are gateways to education more generally,” the report added.

Further it said, a computer-assisted learning programme in Gujarat improved learning when it added to teaching and learning time, especially for the poorest-performing students.

The report recommends taking concrete policy steps to help developing countries in resolving this dire learning crisis and mobilising a strong social movement to push for education changes.

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