Difficulty with reading, spelling and maths is rampant among Indian students. Two recent reports have highlighted this academic underachievement. The academic infrastructure is definitely a major contributor. However, unrecognised dyslexia or other learning disability also needs to be considered by every concerned parent and enlightened teacher. We have already discussed the management of dyslexia. Here we underline the urgent need for action.
India ranked 72nd of 73 countries in a comparative international survey (PISA) of 15-year-old students. All students were assessed on the same test for knowledge and skills in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy. A sample of more than 5000 students from 200 Indian schools were assessed in this program. In none of these categories did more than 17% of Indian students scored above baseline levels as compared to 81% of students from OECD countries (US, UK, Australia etc).
15-year-olds scoring above baseline
The Annual Status of Education Report (2010) paints an equally dismal picture.
- Only half the students in Class 5 can read the Class 2 text
- Only a third of Class 1 children can recognise numbers 1-9
- Only a third of Class 3 students can do subtraction in two digits
- Only a third of Class 5 students can do simple division
- A third of Class 8 students could not use a calender
This may be a scathing indictment of our education system, but it also reflects the presence of unrecognised Learning Disorder in our students. Learning Disorder affects 5-10% of students worldwide. Learning Disorder manifests in varying combinations and severity of difficulty with reading, spelling and arithmetic.
If your child has difficulty reading, spelling or in mathematics
- Have them assessed for dyslexia or other learning disability
- The earlier remedial teaching is instituted the more likely the child is to benefit
- Identification of dyslexia or learning disability entitles your child to waivers at the 10th and 12th board exams.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) of 2009 lays down the duties of government, local authorities and parents; the responsibilities of schools and teachers; and the norms for schools. These norms include the number of teachers, buildings, minimum teaching hours, teaching aids, library, and recreational equipment. However, the teaching to be done is not mentioned and nor is it monitored. Rote learning is emphasised. Students fail to acquire basic reading, writing and calculation skills that are required to continue learning as adults.
- ASER 2010 - Rural. Annual Status of Education Report (Rural)Date of publication: January 14, 2011
- Maurice Walker. PISA 2009 Plus Results: Performance of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science for 10 additional participants. ACER Press. Victoria. 2011. ISBN: 978-1-74286-067-1
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE).