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Across the aisle: P Chidambaram talks about his ‘celebrating gods neglecting children’

6 9 16
21.01.2018

On March 26, 2017, I had written a column titled ‘Celebrating Gods, Neglecting Children’. I had said “Our idea of human resource development is minus child development, minus child health and minus child nutrition’. My focus was on the state of nutrition of children and the data was based on the National Family Health Survey 2015-16. I should have added “minus child education and minus child skilling”. There is another acclaimed report published every year. It is the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). We have a new report (2017) on the status of education in rural India and it was published on January 16, 2018.

Chilling Facts
ASER 2017 recalls a chilling fact that is known to all in the field of school education: ASER studies, over the last 12 years, have ‘consistently pointed out that many children in elementary school need urgent support for acquiring foundational skills like reading and basic arithmetic’. Nothing much has changed except in terms of ‘numbers’. Thanks to the Right to Education Act, the proportion of out-of school children has fallen to 3.1% . Earlier, children were dropping out at Class V; now enrolment beyond Class V has improved dramatically and enrolment in Class VIII has doubled in the past decade, rising from 11 million to 22 million.

However, as the numbers........

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