In rural India, more than half of teenagers do not know how to count
by Nirmala Carvalho

According to the latest Annual Status of Education Report, more than 50 per cent of rural students between 14 and 18 fail to solve a three-digit division, a problem whose solution is usually taught in primary school. Many continue to struggle even with basic reading. Among the causes: poor training and low wages for teachers.


New Delhi (AsiaNews) – More than half of all teenagers aged 14 to 18 in rural India cannot solve a simple three-digit division problem that is usually taught in primary school, and have difficulty with everyday skills, including determining time and doing basic math.

According to the latest edition of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), Indian boys and girls continue to struggle with reading and arithmetic even during their teenage years in higher secondary education.

“Rural areas, with limited access to educational infrastructure and skilled teachers, often struggle to provide quality education to students,” said some educators who spoke to AsiaNews.

"With 65 per cent of the population residing in rural India, education there truly deserves much more attention, especially when it is plagued by so many problems, like teacher shortages, teacher absenteeism, and poor-quality teaching.”

What is more, “The lack of accountability of teachers and school authorities has increased the rate of absenteeism. In addition, non-teaching duties like election invigilation often keep teachers away from schools.”

In rural areas, students often attend poorly equipped schools with inadequate facilities such as classrooms, libraries, and toilets. There is also a lack of motivation and dedication in teaching, which in turn affects the quality of education students receive.

It is important though to point out that teachers in rural areas are often underpaid – low pay and poor training discourage people from seeking employment in education.

UNESCO’s State of the Education Report for India 2020 shows that Indian teachers continue to be among the lowest-paid civil servants in the country.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected students' education in India.

With classes moving online, lack of money, limited access to smartphones and tablets, frequent power outages, and slow internet connectivity have had an additional negative impact on the quality of education.