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14 May 2024 – The Indian Express


Details of the ASER Report

Report on the Annual Status of Education (ASER):

  • The oldest survey of its kind in the nation, it is facilitated by the Pratham Education Foundation.
  • It continues to be a crucial national source of data about kids’ fundamental skills across the nation, using the 2011 Census as the sampling frame.
  • Children between the ages of 3 and 16 were questioned for ASER 2018, which included nearly all rural districts in India. The study produced estimates of the fundamental reading and math skills of children between the ages of 5 and 16.
  • The “early years” were the focus of ASER 2019’s study on the pre-schooling and schooling status of children in 26 rural districts between the ages of 4 and 8.
  • “Developing children’s problem-solving faculties and building a memory, and not content knowledge,” was emphasised.
  • September 2020, the sixth month of nationwide school closures, saw the administration of ASER 2020, the first-ever phone-based ASER survey.

The Beyond Basics survey for ASER 2023:

  • It was conducted in 28 rural areas spread over 26 states in the union.
  • It is illustrative of wider patterns in the interests, skills (including digital skills), and goals of 14–18 year olds and is representative of the district level.
  • In their native tongue, 26% of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 are unable to read a normal two-level text.
  • In 2018, about 27% of standard eight students and 32% of standard seven students were unable to read a text at the standard two level.
  • Typically, foundational learning trajectories are flat and get flatter as students move up the grades.
  • Solution: in the absence of targeted interventions, children are highly unlikely to acquire core skills in later years if they do not acquire them in the primary grades.
  • Of the 14–18 year olds surveyed, 57% are enrolled in standard 10 or below and lack basic reading abilities.
  • Of these children, 28% are not enrolled in any school, college, or vocational programme.

Problems with ASER:

  • Secondary school attendance is not included in the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) 75th round, which was conducted in 2017–18.
  • It was noted that attendance in rural India for the secondary grades (standards nine and ten) could be as low as 60%.
  • Even those who are enrolled in school may not be among the 14 to 18-year-olds who lack the fluency in reading.
  • It might not be beneficial to concentrate on school-based reading development initiatives without making the necessary investments to motivate and enable these kids to go back to school and learn to read.
  • Deciphering basic words or letters is not the main difficulty that most people encounter.
  • To read, they require direction, practice, and an abundance of inspiration and drive.
  • Now that they were being made fun of and embarrassed, a lot of these kids would have quit up and started to detest reading.

ASER 2023:

  • It offers a glimpse into the hopes and ideas that the 14–18 year olds have for the future.
  • In three districts, the ASER team held focus groups with kids in the target age range.
  • More than sixty percent of the kids who participated in the study desire to go to college.
  • with a greater proportion of girls (65%) than boys (59%), wanting to attend college.
  • Regarding their career goals, 50% of respondents stated they hadn’t given it any attention.
  • The most common professional choice for boys who had one was to enlist in the military or the police.
  • However, the most popular profession choice for ladies seems to be becoming a teacher or doctor.
  • Nearly half of the 14–18 year olds questioned by ASER who are interested in a certain career do not know anyone else in that field, either at home, in their neighbourhood, at school, or even as a public figure.
  • Focus groups were held in three districts as part of the ASER 2023 study, and the topics covered included how 14 to 18-year-olds view vocational education.
  • Vocational education was negatively perceived in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, and Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh, as the path people take when they are unable to obtain white collar work.
  • In Solan, Himachali Pradesh, as early as standard nine, schools began offering context-driven practical courses like hotel management and tourism.
  • The effect was evident in how pupils viewed these trades, which acquired aspirational significance.
  • Students were encouraged to pursue related occupations by on-the-job training, certification at the end of the course, and easily accessible information on career opportunities.

How is the ASER quantified?

  • ASER has assessed basic maths and reading comprehension.
  • Reading a text at the Grade II level of difficulty is the hardest reading activity available on the ASER programme.
  • Every youngster in the household that was sampled has a one-on-one assessment.
  • The kid receives a mark at the greatest level that fits their comfort zone.
  • Every child between the ages of five and sixteen completes the same chores.

What actions are necessary?

  • ASER 2022 and subsequently the Development Intelligence Unit’s and Sambodhi’s State of Elementary Education in Rural India Report make it abundantly evident that very few rural households own reading materials except school textbooks.
  • Rich, lively environments that encourage reading, creativity, and critical thinking can be created by community libraries.
  • These libraries require proper management, spearheaded by dedicated and ambitious individuals capable of reigniting a passion for reading and attracting kids, teens, and adults to these spaces.
  • creating a supportive, encouraging, and guidance-giving atmosphere in homes and communities for readers of all ages, genders, and skill levels.

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