Primary school students in rural Maharashtra do not seem to be learning much of their basics. For, less than 30% of students of classes VI to VIII (middle school) in the rural areas can carry out division, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) released by the NGO Pratham on Wednesday. Similarly, not even 40% of students in classes III to V can do subtractions.

The ASER 2016 survey in Maharashtra covered 33 rural districts, 973 villages and 19,430 households. As many as 26,393 school children participated in the survey.

The survey put forth arithmetic questions related to recognition of randomly chosen numbers from 1 to 99, two-digit numerical subtraction problems with borrowing and three-digit by one-digit numerical division problems.

Over the years, reading levels in the primary section seem to have improved but fallen in the upper primary classes. If 73.2% students from standard V could read standard II level text in 2010, about 62.2% could do so in 2016. On the other hand, if 91.7% students from standard VIII could read standard II level text in 2010, only 75.9% could do so in 2016.

Education activist Mukund Kirdat said there was something amiss in the system. “We have to realize that the Act is called Right to Education and not just Right to School. We need to improve quality. The no-detention policy is taking a toll on the quality of education as teachers have taken it as a no-evaluation policy. The teachers' training methodology also need an overhaul,“ he added.

Many teachers like Ranjit Disale frowned at the report. “It is not as bad as is painted to be.The sample size is too small...Those who conducted the survey did not cover all the schools they were supposed to as per the claims made by Pratham,“ he added.