About 50 per cent students from Class 5 and 25 per cent from Class 8 from government schools across the country cannot read a simple text -- letter, words, simple paragraph -- or a "story" with difficulty of Class 2 level, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) - 2018 report published on Tuesday said.
"By Class 8, the last year of compulsory schooling in India, children are expected not only to have mastered foundation skills but to proceeded well beyond the basic stage."
"ASER 2018 data indicates that of all children enrolled in Class 8 in India, about 73 per cent can read at least a Class 2 level text. This number is unchanged from 2016," the report read.
"Slightly more than half of all children enrolled in Class 5 can read at least a Class 2 text," it added.
This was the 13th such report published by the non-governmental organisation, which sent its volunteers to 15,998 government schools across the country to collect the data. Tests were conducted on 5,46,527 students in the age group of 3-16 across 596 districts in rural India.
The report also carried results about the arithmetic proficiency of students from Classes 3, 5 and 8 on whether they could do math problems like two-digit subtraction or a numerical division.
"The overall performance of Class 8 in basic arithmetic has not changed much over time," the report observed, saying that only 44 per cent of students could do the division correctly from Class 8 and 27.8 per cent from Class 5.
The report observed "substantial improvements" in school infrastructure since the implementation of the Right to Education Act in 2010, citing doubling of number of toilets for girls in schools, reaching 66.4 per cent in 2018.
However, the report said that the improvements were not uniform across the board and infrastructure of certain types was worse in schools in states like Jammu and Kashmir and those from north-east.
"In these states, less than 50 per cent of schools had provision of drinking water or girls' toilets available in 2018. With the exception of Assam, majority of schools in states in the North-East did not have library books available for students in 2018," it read.