NEW DELHI: Nine out of ten children in urban private schools cannot comprehend English, comfortably--an assessment by NGO working in the field of education and reviewed by Australian Council for Educational Research has revealed.
This is the largest study of its kind conducted till date and the assessment covered about 20,000 children in over 100 schools in 20 states.
While according to established global standards, a child must be an independent reader with fluency and comprehension by the end of class 3, the assessment called as Fast Reading Assessment 2017-18 reveals that in India, children attain this independence only at class 6 levels.
Out of all the children who participated in the assessment, 12.5 per cent in class 4 and only 2.7 per cent in classes 5 and 6, were reading at an age-appropriate level.
In fact, 11 per cent of those who were assessed at class 4, didn't even possess the abilities of the lowest level reader.
"We are hoping that the report is a significant eye-opener for even urban private schools and reading is brought to the focus of learning rather than just being restricted to a namesake library period," said Kavish Gadia, co-founder and CEO of NGO Stones2Milestones.
Sarah Richardson, Research Director with Australian Council said that the lack of ability to read is a fundamental problem that has not always received sufficient attention.
"The assessment is a credible attempt at focussing attention on this challenge by highlighting issues of interest for a range of relevant stakeholders, whether it is students, teachers, parents, school leaders or policymakers."
Several surveys in the past have also indicated poor learning outcomes in schools across the country. The national Assessment Survey carried out at government schools in all the states by the NCERT in 2017 whose results were compiled this year had shown that Delhi is among the five worst-performing states and Union Territories across India on learning outcomes and the worst in English for Class 8 students. It is also the second worst-performing state in mathematics for Class 3 students.
In Delhi, only 32 per cent of Class 8 students surveyed could answer an English language question, while only 34 per cent of the students could answer a math question. Among class 3 students surveyed in the state, only 54 per cent could answer a math question correctly, while only 58 per cent could answer an English language one. Among class 5 students surveyed in Delhi, only 44 per could answer a math question and 52 per cent an English language one. Results were equally disappointing in most other states.