State of Foundational literacy and numeracy in India

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State of Foundational literacy and numeracy in India

  • The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) released the report on the State of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy in India.
  • The report prepared by the Institute for Competitiveness highlights the importance of early education years in the overall development of a child.
  • It further highlights the role of well-planned early interventions like the National Education Policy (2020) and the NIPUN Bharat guidelines, leading to long-term improved learning outcomes.

Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) skills:

  • It refers to basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills.
  • According to the report, falling behind in the Foundational Learning years which encompass preschool and elementary education makes children more vulnerable as it negatively impacts their learning outcomes.
  • In addition to the existing issues pertaining to foundational learning years, the ongoing pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology in overall child’s education.
  • Therefore the need of the hour is to focus on the foundational learning to ensure universal access to quality levels of education for all children in pre-primary and primary classes in India.

Index on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy:

  • It aims to establish an understanding of the overall state of Foundational Learning across children aged below ten years in Indian States and Union territories.
  • It includes five pillars comprising 41 indicators.
  • The five pillars are : Educational Infrastructure, Access to Education, Basic Health, Learning Outcomes and Governance.
  • Significant goals that have been mapped with the index are Zero Hunger, Good health and Well being and Access to Education
  • States were categorised into different tiers in this index to help bring forth better analysis as there is distinct levels of development of States across India and their varying child population size
  • Various states across India have been classified based on their child population, i.e., those aged ten years and below.

Key Highlights:

  • The report says that some states may serve as role models for others in certain aspects, but they too need to learn from other states while addressing their challenges.
  • This holds true not only for high performers but also for low performing states.
  • For instance, while Kerala has the best performance in the small state, it can also learn from some lower-scoring regions, such as Andhra Pradesh (38.50), which outperforms Kerala (36.55) with respect to access to education.
  • States have performed particularly worse in the Governance pillar because over half of the states have a score that is below the national average, i.e., 28.05, the lowest across all pillars.
  • These pillar-wise analyses help states assess the state of the budgetary measures and steps needed to improve the state of education and identify existing gaps that obstruct their growth.
  • The issue of Access to Education is one that demands prompt action on the part of the States.
  • The performance of Large States such as Rajasthan (25.67), Gujarat (22.28), and Bihar (18.23) is noticeably below average.
  • Whereas the North-eastern states have the highest scores as a result of their superior performance.

Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister:

  • It is an independent, non-constitutional, non-statutory body.
  • It is constituted to give advice on economic and related issues to the Prime Minister
  • It has been reconstituted by the Government for a 2-year term, starting from October, 2021.
  • Its Chairperson is Dr Bibek Debroy
  • The NITI Aayog serves as the Nodal Agency for administrative, logistic, planning and budgeting purposes for it

Terms of Reference of the Council:

  • It includes analysing any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to by the Prime Minister, and advising him on addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views to the PM.
  • It also includes attending to any other task as may be desired by the PM from time to time.