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A national maths problem: How to teach grade 5 children after 2 years

A national maths problem: Pushkar cannot subtract 25 from 16 because it requires borrowing. Kirti can only do simple division, so dividing 58 by 7 is a struggle because she didn’t understand the concept of remainders. Harish climbs even higher: he can’t figure out a single digit number, which he should have done in pre-school.

All three are 10 year old class 5A students of Bir Savarkar Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Delhi Government School, Kalkaji. Everyone should be proficient in these basic mathematical skills taught in Class 3 or earlier. But this class of 38 children – 20 girls and 18 boys – ended up in Class 2 at school.

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After two years of pandemic and lockdown that has touched every aspect of his life, his 31-year-old teacher, Neha Sharma, has a problem that has jumped teachers across the country, according to the recently released National Achievement Survey (NAS) results have been highlighted. ): The national capital academic performance in schools across the country, including Punjab and Rajasthan, has fallen below record levels in 2017.

More than two years after the pandemic, much of the education of these Class 5 children has happened through weekly worksheets and activities shared on WhatsApp. But while device access and data remain uneven, digital learning remains, at best, very complex.

So, how will Sharma tackle this unprecedented challenge: to pace his class for class 5? Given that students have different skills and learning levels, how does he measure his learning at different speeds for different children?

To test this, The Indian Express tracked 38 children in Class 5A through their 26 math classes and key parent-teacher meetings for five weeks from the first day of school.

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