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Unesco finds Indian syllabi too ambitious

Learning Achievements

Times of India


BANGALORE: The curriculum of Indian schools has drawn sharp criticism from the Unesco.

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2014 released on Wednesday states that Indian curriculum is unrealistic and far too ambitious for the child.

“Vietnam’s curriculum focuses on foundation skills, is closely matched with what children are able to learn and pays particular attention to disadvantaged learners. By contrast, India’s curriculum, which outpaces what pupils can realistically learn and achieve in the time given, is a factor in widening learning gaps,” the report reads.

“It’s crucial that primary school pupils master the foundation skills of basic numeracy and literacy in the early grades, so they can understand what’s taught in later grades.”

The education scene appears dismal in India, home to the largest number of adult illiterates in the world – 287 million.

Pointing out that completing primary school in not always the guarantee for literacy, the GMR says in India, after completing up to four years of school, 90% emerge illiterate. After 5-6 years in school, around 30% remain illiterate.

Not surprisingly, the status of girls is bad. In India and Pakistan, poor girls are least likely to be able to do basic calculations. In Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, one in five poor girls is able to do basic mathematics. One reason for the dismal learning levels is that allocation per child still doesn’t adequately reflect the cost of delivering quality education to the marginalized. In the wealthy state of Kerala, education spending per pupil was about Rs 42,470. By contrast, in the poor state of Bihar, it was just Rs 6,200.

India’s high tax exemption has drawn flak. The GMR says some middle income countries, such as Egypt, India and the Philippines have far greater potential to mobilize domestic resources for education through improved taxes.

World to miss education goal

The Education for All goal is not likely to be achieved. Unesco’s report on the state of education says the world will fail to get all children into the classroom by 2015.

In fact, not a single goal will be achieved globally by this year: of the world’s 650 million primary school children , at least 250 million are not learning the basics in reading and mathematics.

This year’s report ‘Teaching and Learning : Achieving Quality for All’ warns that without attracting and adequately training enough teachers, the learning crisis will last several generations and hit the disadvantaged the hardest. Painting a grim picture on the learning levels among children, the GMR says over 120 million children have little or no experience of primary school, having not even reached grade 4. The remaining 130 million are in primary school but have not achieved the minimum benchmarks for learning.

Stating that gender disparity in classrooms is one of the biggest concerns, the GMR points out that in the sub-Saharan region, the richest boys will achieve universal primary completion in 2021, but the poorest girls will not catch up until the year 2086 — a good 65 years later than the boys. The girls will complete lower secondary education only after 100 years from now. Girls make up 54% of the global population of children out of school. Worse, the poorest young women in developing countries may not achieve universal literacy until 2072.

Pointing out that teacher training was critical for effective learning, the GMR says in around a third of countries, less than 75% of primary school teachers are trained. The biggest challenge is training existing teachers than recruiting. In South and West Asia, two of three young people who cannot read are women. In the world’s happiest country, Bhutan, the poorest young females are not projected to achieve universal literacy until 2083.

The poorest young females in Pakistan are not projected to reach the target until the 22nd century. The only good news, however, is that the number of children out of school fell by almost half in 10 years.

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