Insights into Editorial: Chalk and cheese in private vs. government schools
Pratham, a well-known Non-Profit Organization has released the Annual Status of Education Report 2019.
The report shared several key insights and interesting observations about the state of education, especially school-level education in the country.
One of the big debates in early childhood education is on children’s “school readiness” and whether early childhood education provides them with the requisite skills to cope with the school curriculum.
A vast literature exists on the importance of certain cognitive abilities that are supposed to be developed during the years children spend in pre-school, so that they are “ready” when they enter school in grade one.
Pratham’s ASER Report 2019:
- According to a brief analysis, Pratham’s ASER Report 2019 showcases parents’ choice of school when it comes to education of their students.
- This is an annual survey that aims to provide reliable annual estimates of children’s schooling status and basic learning levels for each state and rural district in India.
- ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in almost all rural districts of India.
- ASER is the largest citizen-led survey in India. It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India today.
- In 2019, ASER aims to shine the spotlight on the early years, reporting on the schooling status as well as on a range of important developmental indicators for young children in the age group 4 to 8 across 26 districts in the country.
Parents exhibit a Unique Bias:
According to the report, parents prefer private schools for education of boys while girl students are primarily sent to government schools to get basic education.
The ASER 2019 report states that parents exhibit a unique bias when it comes to selection of schools for their children.
The report shows that parents are more likely to opt for a private school when selecting a school for boys while government schools are primary choice of parents when it comes to girl’s education.
Among four-five-year-old children, 56.8% of girls and 50.4% of boys were enrolled in government schools or preschools, whereas 43.2% of girls and 49.6% of boys were enrolled in private preschools or schools, the survey found.
The gap in enrolment between boys and girls is larger among 6-8 year olds, with 61.1% of all girls versus 52.1% of all boys in this age group going to a government institution.
Need of ASER 2019 ‘Early Years’:
- The report underlined the need to focus on the early years to improve the basics of education.
- A focus on the “breadth of skills” and activities that strengthen cognitive skills rather than formal subject-learning in the early years may generate substantial benefits for later academic performance.
- India is home to the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, which is among the largest and oldest public sector initiatives for early childhood development in the world.
- India has developed additional important schemes, policies and frameworks, such as the National Early Childhood Care and Education (NECCE) Policy (2013); the National Early Childhood Care and Education Curriculum Framework (2014).
- The draft Framework for Implementation of Samagra Shiksha (Integrated Scheme for School Education), which for the first time brings the pre-primary stage under the same umbrella as all other levels of schooling.
- Worldwide research tells us that lack of access to an appropriate environment and activities means that many children do not have the skills and abilities expected when they enter school, and therefore have difficulty coping with the school curriculum.
- In order to ensure that the needs and abilities of young children move into the centre of current debates on educational policy and practice in India, evidence needs to speak to and be understood by a much wider set of actors – parents and community members as well as policy makers and early childhood development professionals.
Areas of improvements needed:
Government policy and practice has not kept pace with people’s aspirations as the Indian economy liberalized.
Most of the young mothers in the next decade will not be very young as the median age of marriage has increased over the years from 18.2 years in 2001 to nearly 21.7 in rural India and 23.4 in urban India by 2016.
There is also the improvement of education among women. Such changes in the profile of young Indian mothers need to be taken into account when thinking of the education inputs to be designed for the young children.
Key Recommendations from ASER report:
Based on the findings of the Annual State of Education Report 2019, Pratham has made some interesting recommendations to improve the state of school-level education in the country. The key recommendations include
- Strengthening and expansion of the existing network of Anganwadi Centres.
- Age of students play an important role in development of language, numeracy, social and emotional learning.
- Enrolling students in primary grades at right age important for overall development.
- Age group between 4 to 8 years seen as continuous progressive stages, so curriculum development should be done in accordance with it.
The government preschool system is managed through the Centre’s Integrated Child Development scheme, under the ministry of women and child development, while schools come under the education ministries at the Centre and in the states.
India has huge investment in its early childhood programme, administered through 1.2 million anganwadis under the ICDS.
The findings of ASER 2019 make it clear that there is need to strengthen these early childhood education centres so that they implement appropriate “school-readiness” activities.
Coherence between central ministries is essential for improving early childhood education policymaking, but it is better to encourage state and district administrations to have a greater say to make early education effective.