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Universal elementary education poor in State

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Nov 12 � The State is far behind the national goal of achieving the Universal Elementary Education (UEE) by 2010. This is despite the drastic decline in the number of out-of-school children from 7.27 per cent in 2007 to 3.56 per cent in 2009 as has been revealed by the Sarba Siksha Abhijan (SSA) Mission data. The State Government�s Approach Paper to the Eleventh Plan categorically stated that it will be difficult to attain UEE goal in Assam by the end of the plan period.

A recent study conducted by the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development (OKDISCD) showed that for every approximately four lower primary (LP) schools, there is one upper primary (UP) school in Assam, against the national average of one UP school to three LP schools. There are still 8,591 venture LP schools and 4,645 recognized venture UP schools in the State.

The study looked into the performance in terms of indicators namely gross enrollment ratio (GER), net enrollment ratio (NER), drop out rates, examination results, teacher-student ratio, learning achievements, along with public expenditure on education, since the Ninth Plan period.

In Assam, habitations having 300 or above populations and 500 and above populations are yet to have 100 percent coverage by one LP school and one UP school respectively. It means that the kids in around 12 per cent of the habitations do not have LP schools in easy walking distance, while in around 10 per cent of the habitations children do not have easy access to UP schools.

The percentage of habitations having primary schools (44.48) within the habitation was less than the national average (60.19) in 2002. In terms of the percentage of population having access to primary-level schooling facilities, the scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) population seem to be in a disadvantaged situation compared to the average population in non-SC and non-ST dominated habitations.

The State has only one-third of the total schools housed in pucca buildings and only 29.92 percent (lowest among all the states) of the classrooms identified as having good condition, compared to the all India percentages of 72.98 and 74.00 respectively.

Further, 30 per cent of the schools are single-classroom ones in the State, against the average of 9 per cent for all the States in the country. The situation is worse in the rural areas with 57.88 percent single-classroom schools.

The average number of classrooms in Assam is three against the all India average of seven, at the elementary level. With an average of four teachers per elementary school, against the norm of at least seven teachers, the State has shortage of teachers. Coupled with this, the quality of teachers is yet another major problem for the State. Fifty per cent of the teachers in government schools in the State are without any professional training. The corresponding figure for national level is only 14 per cent.

The Composite Educational Development Index calculated on the basis of access, infrastructure, teacher and outcome, by the District Information System for Education (DISE) has also presented a grim picture of the State�s school education. As per the DISE index, Assam ranks last among the 35 states and union territories at the LP level, 32 nd in UP level and 33 rd taking both UP and LP together.

The OKDISCD Study showed that there is a gradual decrease in the share of Plan grants in elementary education. The situation is even worse in case of secondary education where it is less than even two per cent of the GSDP.

The budget analysis of the State government from the period 2001-02 to 2009-10 shows that only 0.37 per cent of annual budget, on an average, is used for teachers� training at the Secondary level and only .0015 per cent of the budgeted expenditure on Elementary education is spent for teachers� training.

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Universal elementary education poor in State

GUWAHATI, Nov 12 � The State is far behind the national goal of achieving the Universal Elementary Education (UEE) by 2010. This is despite the drastic decline in the number of out-of-school children from 7.27 per cent in 2007 to 3.56 per cent in 2009 as has been revealed by the Sarba Siksha Abhijan (SSA) Mission data. The State Government�s Approach Paper to the Eleventh Plan categorically stated that it will be difficult to attain UEE goal in Assam by the end of the plan period.

A recent study conducted by the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development (OKDISCD) showed that for every approximately four lower primary (LP) schools, there is one upper primary (UP) school in Assam, against the national average of one UP school to three LP schools. There are still 8,591 venture LP schools and 4,645 recognized venture UP schools in the State.

The study looked into the performance in terms of indicators namely gross enrollment ratio (GER), net enrollment ratio (NER), drop out rates, examination results, teacher-student ratio, learning achievements, along with public expenditure on education, since the Ninth Plan period.

In Assam, habitations having 300 or above populations and 500 and above populations are yet to have 100 percent coverage by one LP school and one UP school respectively. It means that the kids in around 12 per cent of the habitations do not have LP schools in easy walking distance, while in around 10 per cent of the habitations children do not have easy access to UP schools.

The percentage of habitations having primary schools (44.48) within the habitation was less than the national average (60.19) in 2002. In terms of the percentage of population having access to primary-level schooling facilities, the scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) population seem to be in a disadvantaged situation compared to the average population in non-SC and non-ST dominated habitations.

The State has only one-third of the total schools housed in pucca buildings and only 29.92 percent (lowest among all the states) of the classrooms identified as having good condition, compared to the all India percentages of 72.98 and 74.00 respectively.

Further, 30 per cent of the schools are single-classroom ones in the State, against the average of 9 per cent for all the States in the country. The situation is worse in the rural areas with 57.88 percent single-classroom schools.

The average number of classrooms in Assam is three against the all India average of seven, at the elementary level. With an average of four teachers per elementary school, against the norm of at least seven teachers, the State has shortage of teachers. Coupled with this, the quality of teachers is yet another major problem for the State. Fifty per cent of the teachers in government schools in the State are without any professional training. The corresponding figure for national level is only 14 per cent.

The Composite Educational Development Index calculated on the basis of access, infrastructure, teacher and outcome, by the District Information System for Education (DISE) has also presented a grim picture of the State�s school education. As per the DISE index, Assam ranks last among the 35 states and union territories at the LP level, 32 nd in UP level and 33 rd taking both UP and LP together.

The OKDISCD Study showed that there is a gradual decrease in the share of Plan grants in elementary education. The situation is even worse in case of secondary education where it is less than even two per cent of the GSDP.

The budget analysis of the State government from the period 2001-02 to 2009-10 shows that only 0.37 per cent of annual budget, on an average, is used for teachers� training at the Secondary level and only .0015 per cent of the budgeted expenditure on Elementary education is spent for teachers� training.