the year 2003, a pilot study was conducted by the Planning and Management
Branch of the DIET Thadlaskein, covering five blocks of Jaintia Hills. One
of the mian objectives of the study was to diagnose the most common
learning problems in specific areas at the early primary grades. A total
of 1183 learners were selected from a hundred Primary schools and
specially designed tests were administered to find out learning
difficulties of early primary school-going children in specific areas like
language and arithmetic. No attempt was made to interpret the results of
the tests as only the mastery and non-mastery aspects of specific skills
in the two subject areas were recorded. The following are some of the
areas in which the learners experienced difficulties:
Language Problems at the Lower Primary Level:
It was observed from the worksheets that a large number of pupils
had illegible handwriting that could be best described as
‘unreadable’. There were many who had not developed even basic
‘letter’ writing. Even in classes three and four there were students
who did not know ‘cursive writing’.
A lot of children especially in class one, had trouble spelling
short and simple words made up of say, two to three letters. Even though
learners had no problems identifying shapes, persons, animals and objects,
they however faced numerous problems spelling them.
In every case of spelling mistakes it was observed that most pupils
spelt the words exactly as they pronounced them. For example some spelt
‘cow’ as ‘caw’ etc.
Use of Capital and small
letters when writing
Many students did not know when to use capital and small letters
while writing. For instance a word would be written and would contain both
capital and small letters: mAsI; lEt; bAJe etc.
Another common problem for many pupils especially in classes 3 and
4 was writing all letters in capital: LET; BAJE etc.
Even learners, who had no problems with spellings, could not
construct the most simple of sentences in almost every case.
Parts of speech
This is another area in which a lot of students faced difficulties.
Many could not identify proper nouns, adjectives etc. There were many
occasions where the learners could not even distinguish proper nouns from
Common Learning Problems in
Arithmetic at the Lower Primary Level:
In many worksheets apart from illegible handwriting, even number
writing was indecipherable. As a result of this, many pupils themselves
made countless errors that could have easily been avoided.
Apart from teachers who described it as a problem area, it was
found that the concept was not clear in many classes. This was also one of
the most common carry-over problems in the area of mathematics.
Though there were not many students who had problems in this area,
it was found that in some cases, because of their inability to grasp the
concept of place value, some pupils found it difficult to compute
carry-over exercises. Most children found it difficult to compute when
problems were arranged horizontally.
The major problem was in the area of take-away exercises. Some
learners could not compute borrowing sums especially when they were
arranged in a horizontal manner.
Many pupils did not understand the concept of multiplication as a
short method of addition. Problems arose whenever a pupil’s knowledge of
the different tables was not thorough. There were also a number of
problems that arose when multiplying two digit numbers by two digit
and Paise conversion
of Length, Weight and Capacity