Foundational Literacy and Numeracy

Mir Mohammed Gulzar
In the wake of global competitive scenario, quality education in school education needs to be priority agenda. Attaining foundational literacy and numeracy by grade 3 is a big challenge for education system. The survey reports have brought to the surface that more than 5 crore students in the country are not capable to read, write, add and subtract i.e., they are devoid of 3R’s. These children are enrolled in schools, get free textbooks and MDM, but the very purpose of schooling remains un-served. The students are admitted in schools(public and private) for getting education. The survey shows a grim picture of students who do not read, write and can do simple mathematics. Students coming out from schools are becoming drop outs in such a huge number is really worrisome. The New Education Policy has the distinction of identifying for the first time this long due snag and has given ample stress on attaining foundational literacy and numeracy. The policy designers have realized that if this most basic learning requirement of reading, writing and arithmetic is first achieved, then the rest of Policy will become relevant for students. The new education policy gives the highest priority for achieving the foundational literacy and numeracy by the age of 8.
Under the SSA scheme, access to school was an important component and new schools were opened within the radius of 1 km distance. This and many other allied programs helped in bringing children of appropriate age to schools. The students whether attained or not, foundational literacy and numeracy are promoted to next higher class. This promotion policy paves the way for many such students to leave the schools at elementary stage for obvious reasons and the main one is state of boredom.
The major thrust in NEP 2020 on achieving the foundational literacy and numeracy cannot yield the desired results, unless the obstacles are identified and done away. The following are some identified issues and obstacles which can be of a great help to check the student drop out:
* Student’s frequent absenteeism is noteworthy.
* Induction Trainings shall invariably include, developing professional behaviour and bringing attitudinal changes in teachers
* Creation of student friendly atmosphere where a new comer interacts freely
* Individual attention and tracking the child
* Language problem (mother tongue as envisaged in NEP as medium of instruction)
* Children of under privileged families having no learning aids become poor performers.
* Individualized focus on the poor performer
* Supervision and Monitoring Mechanism needs review for its effectiveness.
* Lack of meaningful parent teacher coordination
It is pertinent to mention here that NEP 2020 has provided solutions to a number of impediments found in the way of achieving foundational literacy and numeracy. The education system needs to address at local levels, the varying socio economic and socio cultural aspects for achieving the goals. The New Education Policy has emphatically highlighted the need of a robust system of continuous formative assessment to track thereby individualize and ensure each student’s learning. Individual attention by a teacher more particularly to a slow learner to enable him to come at par with the peers by overcoming learning gaps can be of great help in achieving the target of foundational literacy and numeracy. Rote learning shall be replaced by conceptual and activity based learning.
The books need to be designed in such a way that they focus on construction of knowledge by learners through the understanding of concepts by providing interactive opportunities to them. The school heads must ensure that every student by the age of 8 shall be in a position to know 3R’s.
Student needs to be communicated in his /her mother tongue as this is the most viable medium of instruction and the same is over emphasized by New Education Policy. A lot of patience by teachers and their coming down to the level of students are prerequisite for successful attainment of literacy and numeracy. The monitoring system shall be in line with the aims and objectives of primary education. The field functionaries designated for monitoring and inspection are rarely abreast with the achievable targets. The quality assurances are needed in all aspects of school education right from curriculum, textbooks, pedagogy, student evaluation, planning, infrastructure development, over all monitoring and training of functionaries .Over and above developing leadership qualities in school heads is the need of the hour.Training school heads would go a long way in inspiring and motivating students and teachers for achieving the desired targets.
(The author is Incharge Principal DIET Beerwah (Budgam)