Parents send their children to school because they believe they will acquire the skills, abilities, values and habits that will enable them to become productive adults. 13% of the country’s population are currently under six years of age,

The country’s ability to deliver these outcomes will affect its future prosperity in no small measure. The Government of India has implemented a range of initiatives to ensure that schooling is indeed accessible to all children. Over the past decade, India’s annual budget for elementary education has risen steadily, and is currently Rs. 21,000 crores.

Basic school infrastructure has been put in place across the country: classrooms and toilets have been built, in many states, thousands of teachers have been hired, and most villages now have a school within one kilometer. This remarkable push towards universal coverage has led to more than 96% of all children being enrolled in school. For a country as large and complex as India, these are no mean achievements.

Literacy and numeracy are essential components of learning, the basic building blocks without which desired schooling outcomes, however defined, cannot take place. yet despite massive investments in primary education, many children are not acquiring even basic abilities in reading and arithmetic. The Annual Status of education Report (ASeR), conducted each year since 2005 in all rural districts of the country, shows that in 2010,only 53% of Std 5 children in rural India could read a Std 2 level text and only 36% could solve a three digit by one digit division problem. Nationally, this situation has hardly changed over the six year period for which ASeR data is available.

Parents across the length and breadth of the country are pinning their hopes on education as the stepping stone to a better life for their children. The time is right to think about what our schools can do to ensure that these aspirations are fulfilled, so that not just schooling, but Learning is guaranteed to every child. This is the true spirit of the RTE Act.

Courtesy: Release by ASER

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