In what points to a deepening of India’s learning crisis, a study by Azim Premji University has found that 92 per cent of primary school students have lost at least one language ability from the previous year during the school closure induced by Covid-19.
Mathematical abilities, too, have suffered considerable damage. According to the report released Wednesday, 82 per cent of the students in Classes 2 to 6 had lost at least one mathematical ability in the same time.
The study defines loss of language ability in the said age group as describing a picture or a personal experience orally, reading familiar words, and writing simple sentences based on a photo, among other things. Identifying single or two-digit numbers, performing basic mathematical operations and describing 2D and 3D shapes are some examples listed under the mathematical abilities the students were assessed on.
To be specific, 67 per cent of children in Class 2, 76 per cent in Class 3, 85 per cent in Class 4, 89 per cent in Class 5, and 89 per cent in Class 6 have lost at least one mathematical ability from the previous year, the study found.
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In case of learning loss in language, it found that 92 per cent of children in Class 2, 89 per cent in Class 3, 90 per cent in Class 4, 95 per cent in Class 5, and 93 per cent in Class 6 have lost at least one specific ability from the previous year.
The findings are important as they confirm apprehensions of experts over the damage prolonged school closures may have inflicted. The survey assumes significance against the backdrop of the recently announced Budget for 2021-22 that has proposed a cut of Rs 5,000 crore for Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan that funds school education.
The study was conducted in January and covers 16,067 children in 1,137 public schools across 44 districts in five states -— Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan Uttarakhand.
The report emphasises that the extent and nature of learning loss are serious enough to call for action at all levels.