GUWAHATI, July 12 � A recent report prepared by the Assam Government and submitted to the Planning Commission, Government of India, has laid bare the dismal state of education in the State. Even though the Planning Commission would need time before it decides to respond by allocations in the 12th Plan, the findings do not augur well for scores of students across the State.
The gross enrolment ratio of the State now stands at 31.5 against 45.5 which is the national average. What is more worrying, the rate is even lower for girls, which is 27.7, and showing signs of marginal improvement only.
The report recognises shortages in the field of infrastructure and equipment facing hundreds of schools, some in remote areas serving severely disadvantaged communities. It is mentioned that 60 per cent schools do not have access to clean and safe drinking water, 54 per cent need sanitation facilities and 39 per cent have no playground.
Even though mid-day meals are being served in many schools, 80 per cent such schools are yet to have a kitchen shed where food can be cooked and stored.
No less a matter of concern are single-teacher schools in the state which have several different classes being taught and managed by just one teacher. About 39 per cent of primary schools are served by a single teacher and 45 per cent do not have the required student teacher ratio. Not surprisingly, most single-teacher schools are in villages and in remote areas where the majority of students are from disadvantaged background.
The State Government has taken note of the fact that drop out rates at the elementary level is quite high. The odds are stacked against the girl child, especially in under-served and difficult areas like tea gardens and chars.
Another worry that has gained in dimension is the poor state of teacher training in the State. According to data of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, only 29 per cent of teachers at the secondary level have received proper training compared to 89 per cent in the rest of the country. This has resulted in the lowering of quality in teaching across the State and affected the prospects of students at a very crucial stage of their academic life.
In its report, the Government has stated, �It is rightly a central part of the strategy that the Twelfth Plan must focus on quality which would include teacher training and evaluation and also measures to enforce accountability�.
With an intent to improve teacher training, the State Government has envisaged some initiatives, which include infrastructure development for teacher training, appointment of more personnel in the teacher training institutes, development of teaching learning materials, and research and action research programmes. Besides there are plans to launch capacity building programmes for teachers to improve professional competency.
The Government also makes it clear that the PPP mode will be favoured in some areas of education. It says that the PPP approach can be used in quality higher education and in technical education, where it can complement the Government�s own existing efforts.