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Study raises concern over math ability of kids in rural India

Raising the alarm bell, an education survey has revealed a decline in children's ability to do simple mathematics in rural India, with only 35.9 per cent in class V able to solve easy division problems last year as against 38 per cent in 2009.

The annual State of Education Report 2010, facilitated by Pratham, a non-governmental organisation, has also said as against 69.3 per cent in 2009, only 65.8 per cent of class I students could recognise numbers from 1 to 9 in 2010, a decline of about four per cent.

The report further revealed that only 36.5 per cent of the children in class III could solve two digit subtraction problems in the survey carried out last year as against 39 per cent a year before.

The report, released by Vice President Hamid Ansari Friday, was based on a survey which covered seven lakh children in 14,000 villages in 522 districts.

It singled out Punjab for bucking the trend though, saying performance of children in maths there has improved over the last few years.

As against 43.5 per cent of students of class V in 2008, more than 69 per cent could do divisions in 2010, it said and talked about other positive trends at the elementary level there.

Class VIII students of Kerala and Bihar also showed good results in problem solving abilities, it said.

The report said though there was not much change between 2009 and 2010 in proportion of children enrolled in Government schools and taking private tuitions, "there is a clear decrease in the incidence of tuition among children enrolled in private schools till class VIII".

The report found that 96.5 per cent of children in 6 to 14 age group in rural India are enrolled in schools, of whom 71.1 per cent are enrolled in Government schools and 24.3 in private schools.

Making a special reference to Bihar, the report said it has made good progress in the enrolment figure where the percentage of out of school girls and boys in all age groups has been declining steadily since 2005.

"In 2006, 12.3 per cent of boys and 17.6 per cent of girls were out of schools in 11-14 age group. By 2010, these number had declined to 4.4 per cent for boys and 4.6 per cent for girls," it said.

For rural India as a whole, attendance showed no change between 2007-10, which remained at 73 per cent in this period.

Talking about compliance with Right to Education Act which came into effect in April last year, the report said that 60 per cent of the 13,000 schools visited had satisfied infrastructure norms specified by RTE.

"More than half of these schools, however, will need more teachers," it said.

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