In rural Karnataka, students fail when it comes to basic Math problems 

The top-performing districts were Belagavi, Mandya, Tumakuru and Haveri leaving others much behind
Basic Math learning in rural Karnataka | (Pic: EdexLive)
Basic Math learning in rural Karnataka | (Pic: EdexLive)

In a shocking revelation, government school children in Classes IV, V and VI from rural Karnataka failed to perform basic maths calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, number sense and fraction when hour-long tests were conducted in 30 districts, stated a report in The New Indian Express.

Students were tested for competencies for grades lower than their current classes. This highlights the grave issue of a huge learning gap in government schools across Karnataka, despite the rising enrollment ratio. Some of the worst-performing districts are Chitradurga, Ballari, Raichur and Kalaburagi, where students failed to meet the average mark for passing the tests.

Bengaluru-based Akshara Foundation conducted the Math contests for children in Classes IV to VI, across 2,625 gram panchayats in Karnataka between November 2022 and March 2023. As many as 3,12,550 children participated in these contests.

Making Math fun
Ashok Kamath, Chairman, Akshara Foundation, said, "Math is an important analytical tool for everyone and children who don't know will miss out on a lot of opportunities. However, we must look at enabling the current school environment that can make learning easy and not just focus on the outcome."

Highlighting the challenges faced by teachers in government schools, Kamath, said, "A lot of people have grown up fearing Math, even teachers who teach it. Currently, there are no effective means of transferring textbook knowledge to children. Math needs to be taught from concrete to abstract. For that, we need effective tools such as beads, abacus, base 10 blocks; place value strips, fraction strips and much more, which will not only make learning easier but also fun."

He added that teachers need to be trained and reoriented and there should be a feedback mechanism in place. Community also needs to be engaged in the process.

"The GP contests help parents understand how much their child is learning in the school if they can’t do simple addition being a sixth grader. The parents also need to be involved,” said Kamath.

About the question paper
The question paper set for over 1,039,62 students in Class IV was prepared to match Class III school curriculum. However, only 40% of those children could solve division and fraction sums. They performed better in addition, and number sense, only around 50 per cent could get through the multiplication problems.

The issue persisted for Class V and VI students as well with Ballari, Chitradurga and Kalaburagi as bottom-performing districts. With 1,13,099 Class V students taking the test, many needed help understanding the concepts of measurement, subtraction and shapes.

A total of 95,490 students appeared for the Class VI contest and the NGO found that students found the toughest competency with multiplication, division and measurement but were able to solve fractions, identify shapes and do simple additions.

The question papers were formulated with the help of the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETS) and derived from the State's Kalika Chetarike programme. The top-performing districts were Belagavi, Mandya, Tumakuru and Haveri leaving others much behind.

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