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Annual Status of Education Report

Context:

Since 2005, ASERs survey children in the age group of 6 to 14 to record trends in school enrollment, attendance, and reading and arithmetic abilities. This year, nearly 7 lakh children across 616 districts were surveyed.

Relevance:

GS II: Education

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)
  2. Impact of Pandemic on School Enrollment
  3. Facilities and Infrastructure
  4. Impact of Pandemic on Private Tuition and Foundational Skills

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

  • ASER report is a nationwide survey of rural education and learning outcomes in terms of reading and arithmetic skills that has been conducted by the NGO Pratham for the last 15 years.
  • It uses Census 2011 as the sampling frame and continues to be an important national source of information about children’s foundational skills across the country.
  • ASER 2018 surveyed children in the age group of 3 to 16 years and included almost all rural districts in India and generated estimates of foundational reading and arithmetic abilities of children in the age group 5 to 16 years.
  • ASER 2019 reported on the pre-schooling or schooling status of children in the age group 4 to 8 years in 26 rural districts, focused on the “early years” and laid emphasis on “developing problem-solving faculties and building a memory of children, and not content knowledge”.
  • ASER 2020 is the first ever phone-based ASER survey and it was conducted in September 2020, the sixth month of national school closures.
  • In 2021 due to the pandemic, ASER’s 16th annual report was based on a phone survey assessing enrolment in schools and tuition classes, and access to devices and learning resources, rather than the organisation’s usual face-to-face survey which assesses learning outcomes and children’s competencies in reading and arithmetic skills.
  • The survey aimed to find out how children in aged between 5-16 studied at home since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic as well as challenges that schools & households now face in the backdrop of opening up of schools.

Impact of Pandemic on School Enrollment

Changes in enrollment
  • Enrollment has gone up even in a period when schools were shut, and we were already at very high levels before.
  • It has risen further, including for older age groups, even though there was a fear that older girls, especially, may drop out.
  • There is a big shift to government schools.
  • The voice of 7 lakh children and their families is that it is good to be back in school.
  • The need to make sure their attendance rises, with a huge variation in attendance across the country.
Facilities and Infrastructure
  • Over time, there has been an improvement in infrastructure variables.
  • The issue of enrollments is coming potentially from the fact that during Covid, the rural private schools couldn’t do much because their own economy was very fragile.
  • Being attached to the State, government schools distributed textbooks, they often distributed midday meals.
  • Teachers were able to reach out in some form or fashion.
  • There is a pull factor towards government schools.
  • Family incomes have been hit, but everybody still believes that schooling must happen.
  • Parental involvement and interest in education should be leveraged.

 Data on school enrollment of children in rural areas, those taking private tuitions.

Data on the state of basic reading and maths among students and the proportion of girls (aged 15 to 16 years) who are not in schools.

Impact of Pandemic on Private Tuition and Foundational Skills

Private Tuition
  • The reason private tuition went up is probably that it is more flexible.
  • Parents felt that schools are closed, we are not sure when they will open, but we need to get some extra help.
  • It can be thought of as a local organizing.
  • Parents wanting more for their children and going wherever possible to get it.
Foundational Skills
  • Emphasized in the National Education Policy of 2020
  • 80% of schools have received guidelines and teachers have been trained on schemes like National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN) Bharat and Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) mission.
  • Decline in learning levels since 2018, varies across the country.
  • Drop in reading is more than in math.
  • NIPUN Bharat’s goal is that every child by Class 3 is at grade level.
  • Number of such children before Covid was around 30%, and now is somewhere for reading around 20% and for math around 25-26%.

Road Ahead

  • Need to take big jumps every year to improve foundational skills.
  • Need to shake up things and improve productivity of the country.
  • Integration between the anganwadi system and the school system is urgently needed.
  • Need to consider catch-up for kids who are past Class 4, 5.
  • Consider these points in next year’s plans for states.

-Source: Indian Express


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