The author who is a founder-chairman of Central Square Foundation, a founding member of Ashoka University through this article pinpoints the present lacunae in our primary education system and highlights the need for strong foundational skills The job half done During the past 10 years, the Right to Education Act ensured a steady increase in school enrollment with more than 260 million children in the age group of six to 14 years enrolled in schools. However, this is only half the job done as just ensuring schooling does not result in learning. Crisis in Primary school education

  • According to ASER 2018, only a little over one-quarter of third-grade students can read second-grade text or subtract one two-digit number from another.
  • The Indian government’s own National Achievement Survey (NAS), too, indicates that a large proportion of children are not picking up critical skills in the early grades.
Need for strong foundational skills
  • By next year, the average age of an Indian is expected to be 29 years, additionally, around 12 million youth in India is now reaching the employable age each year. However, the country’s youth will be able to do very little to push the economy upward if we fail to invest in universal quality education.
  • Class 3 is the inflection point-The crux of knowledge development
  • Children are expected to learn to read by class 3 so that they can read to learn after that.
  • Beyond this critical stage, it becomes extremely difficult for children to pick up these basics and if they are still unable to read simple text or do simple math, they start to fall behind.
  • In primary schools, teachers are usually guided by the curriculum-based textbooks, and they choose to focus on the children who are easiest to teach or who are most likely to follow and finish the curriculum. Due to this challenge in our school education system, children who don’t know these critical skills tend to get left behind. Universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy skills can be a great equalizer for such students.
  • The draft National Education Policy (NEP) to identifies foundational literacy and numeracy the ability to read, write and perform basic calculations as prerequisites for all learning.
  • The draft NEP states that attainment of foundational skills has to be given the highest priority, which, if not achieved, would render all other efforts irrelevant for a large section of the population.
What needs to be done?
  • On an urgent basis, the government needs to focus on foundational learning.
  • Work on four critical pillars to achieve scalable long-term impact
Improvement in the Foundational education system
  • Instate International Examples in Peru, every stakeholder in school education knows that a student has to fluently read 40 words per minute in class 2 and 60 words per minute in class 3.
Improvement in the education system is crucial for India Improvement in the education system is crucial for India to cement its position as a global leader. Making foundational learning a priority is the need of the hour. For, foundational learning opens up opportunities for better income, health, sanitation, safety, and so on. Read More Articles: Draft National Education Policy- 2019 Comparison Of Education Policies In India And Bhutan