aser-survey-2020

  • Recently, the Annual State of Education Report (ASER) survey has been released which provides a glimpse into the levels of learning loss that students in rural India are suffering, with varying levels of access to technology, school and family resources resulting in a digital divide in education.
  • This year, in the wake of the pandemic, the survey was conducted via phone calls, reaching 52,227 rural households with school-age children in 30 States and Union Territories (UTs).

Annual Status of Education Report

  • It 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.

Enrollments

  • 5.5% of rural children are not currently enrolled for the 2020 school year, up from 4% in 2018.
     
    • This difference is the sharpest among the youngest children (6 to 10) where 5.3% of rural children had not yet enrolled in school in 2020, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018.
    • Due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, families are waiting for the physical opening of schools to enrol their youngest children, with about 10% of six-year-olds not in school.
  • Among 15-16 year-olds, however, enrollment levels are slightly higher than in 2018.
  • The proportion of boys enrolled in government schools has risen from 62.8% in 2018 to 66.4% in 2020, while for girls, that number has gone up from 70% to 73% in the corresponding period.
  • Patterns show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.
  • The Centre has now permitted States to start reopening schools if they can follow Covid-19 safety protocols but the majority of the country’s 25 crore students are still at home.
  • Availability of Smartphones:
    • Among enrolled children, 61.8% live in families that own at least one smartphone which was merely 36.5% in 2018.
      • About 11% of families bought a new phone after the lockdown, of which 80% were smartphones.
    • WhatsApp is by far the most popular mode of transmitting learning materials to students, with 75% of students receiving input via this app.
  • Availability of Learning Material:
    • Overall more than 80% of children said they had textbooks for their current grade.
       
      • This proportion was higher among students enrolled in government schools (84.1%) than in private ones (72.2%).
    • In Bihar, less than 8% got such materials from their schools, along with 20% in West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
    • More than 80% of rural children in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat received such input.
  • Learning Activities:
    • Most children (70.2%) did some form of a learning activity through material shared by tutors or family members themselves, with or without regular input.
    • 11% had access to live online classes, and 21% had videos or recorded classes, with much higher levels in private schools.
    • About 60% studied from their textbooks and 20% watched classes broadcast on TV.