National topper: Punjab charts course correction

From scoring “below the national average” in 11 out of 15 subjects in 2017 to being the national best in 11 subjects four years later, Punjab has scripted a turnaround in education at school level, if the results of the National Achievement Survey (NAS)-2021, released by the Union Ministry of Education on Thursday, is something to pass.

The NAS, conducted by the Center in coordination with the CBSE and NCERT to assess the learning achievement levels of students in grades 3, 5, 8 and 10, was held on November 12 last year. Nationally, the survey tested 34.01 lakh students from 1.18 lakh schools. In Punjab, a total of 1.17 lakh students from 3,656 schools including public and private were tested.

While students in classes 3 and 5 were tested in language (Punjabi), mathematics and environmental studies (EVS), students in class 8 were also tested in science. Students in Class 10 were tested in English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Modern Indian Language (MIL), which in the case of Punjab was Punjabi.

According to NAS-2021, Punjab scored highest in all subjects for grades 3, 5, and 8. For grade 10, it scored highest in math, second in science, social science, and MIL and the third in English. He scored above the national average in all categories and emerged as the best in 11 of the 15 subjects in which students in these four classes were assessed.

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This is in stark contrast to the NAS-2017 report which placed Punjab among the worst performing states. Punjab had scored below the national average in all three subjects for grades 3 and 5 and in three out of four subjects for grade 8. For grade 10, it had scored below the national average in two subjects out of five.

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From training children in grades 3 and 5 on the use of OMR answer sheets, to realigning the entire curriculum with objective-type questions, to familiarizing students with the NAS format – education department officials of the State and the teachers kept the process of preparation in progress.

Maninder Sarkaria, who was the state nodal officer for NAS and is now the director of SCERT, said the 2017 results were a huge setback.

“From our curriculum to books and teaching methodology, nothing was child friendly. We have introduced a complete overhaul…” he said. Pardeep Aggarwal, Director General of School Education of Punjab, said credit for the success goes to former Secretary of State for Education, Krishan Kumar.

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