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Wither Gunotsav?: Gujarat children's math level worse than most states, including UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha

By Rajiv Shah
Data provided by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016 not only suggest that girl child education remains a major hurdle in rural Gujarat (click HERE), widely regarded by Government of India as a “model” state for other states to follow. Gujarat is found to be behind a large number of states even in learning levels at the primary level.
ASER has released the data at a time when Gujarat government is holding its high-profile annual Gunotsav festival, sending out all senior officials, including IAS and IPS bureaucrats, to remotest parts of the state to "improve" the quality of education in the states. The data suggest, the yearly exercise, begun by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Gujarat's chief minister, does not appear to have had any major impact vis-a-vis other states.
Thus, the data show that just 23% of Gujarat’s standard 3 children can read standard 2 level text, which is worse than 10 other major states – Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
What is worse, the data show, just about 19.9 per cent of standard 3 children can do subtraction, which is lower than all 20 major states except one – Madhya Pradesh (13.8%). So-called backward states, known to perform worse than Gujarat in economic indicators, clearly outperform Gujarat – in Odisha 33.9% can do subtraction, in Bihar 27.1%, in Assam 26.5%, in Uttar Pradesh 23.2%, in Rajasthan 21.5%, in Jharkhand 20.4% and in Chhattisgarh 20%.
The trend remains the same for standards 5 and 8. In Gujarat, 53.5% children of standard 5 can read standard 2 text, which is worse than as many as nine states. As for the percentage of standard 5 children who can do division, it is found to be 16.1, which is worse than all 20 states, except one, Assam (13.6%).
Similarly, while 76.6% of standard 8 children in Gujarat are found to be able to read standard 2 text, this is worse than seven other states – Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Further, just about 34.8% of standard 8 children, suggest data, can do division, which is worse than all states except five – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam and Chhattisgarh.
The report, ironically, notes that Gujarat is one of the two states which showed a “significant increases in government school enrollment relative to 2014 levels.” Thus, in Kerala, the proportion of children (age 11-14) enrolled in government school increased from 40.6% in 2014 to 49.9% in 2016”, while in Gujarat, “this proportion increased from 79.2% in 2014 to 86% in 2016.”
ASER notes, a certain improvement was also noticed in the proportion of children in standard 5 who could read a standard 2 level text -- by more than 5 percentage points from 2014 to 2016 in four states – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tripura, Nagaland and Rajasthan. However, it adds, “This improvement is driven by gains in learning levels in government schools in these states.”
Trend in Gujarat's primary standards overtime in arithmetic 
Carried out with the support of private corporate houses and NGOs – in Gujarat, the support came from the Coastal Gujarat Power Limited, better known as Tata Power, which has put up the 4000 MW ultra-mega power plant in Mundra, Kutch – the field survey across the country was done by volunteers, 63% of whom were students. In Gujarat, according to ASER's own admission, “90% of volunteers were students.”

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