Highlights of ASER 2022

Why in News?

  • Pratham’s Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) 2022 — the first full-fledged one after the pandemic has now been published.

 ASER Survey:

  • This is an annual survey (published by the education non-profit Pratham) that aims to provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India.
  • ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in all rural districts of India. It is the largest citizen-led survey in India.
  • It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India.
  • The survey is usually done once in two years.

How is the survey conducted?

  • ASER tools and procedures are designed by ASER Centre, the research and assessment arm of Pratham.
  • The survey itself is coordinated by ASER Centre and facilitated by the Pratham network. It is conducted by close to 30,000 volunteers from partner organizations in each district.
  • All kinds of institutions partner with ASER: colleges, universities, NGOs, youth groups, women’s organizations, self-help groups, and others.
  • The ASER model has been adapted for use in several countries around the world: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Pakistan, Mali, and Senegal.

Assessment parameters:

  • Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey.
  • This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools or anywhere else.
  • In each rural district, 30 villages are sampled. In each village, 20 randomly selected households are surveyed.
  • Information on schooling status is collected for all children living in sampled households who are in the age group 3-16.
  • Children in the age group 5-16 are tested in basic reading and basic arithmetic. The same test is administered to all children.
  • The highest level of reading tested corresponds to what is expected in std 2; in 2012 this test was administered in 16 regional languages.
  • In recent years, this has included household size, parental education, and some information on household assets.

Highlights of ASER 2022:

  • The ASER 2022 report, which surveyed 6.99 lakh children aged 3 to 16 across 616 rural districts, however, bears some good news. School-level enrolment continues to grow strong and fewer girls are now out of school.

(1) Enrolment

  • India has recorded a 95% enrolment for the last 15 years in the 6-14 age group.
  • Despite the pandemic forced school closure, the figure rose from 97.2% in 2018 to 98.4% in 2022.
  • Only 1.6% children are now not enrolled.
  • There is a clear increase in government school (6-14) enrolment across states — it rose from 65.6% in 2018 to 72.9% in 2022.
  • This is contrast to the trend in the 2006-14 period, which marked a steady decline in government school enrolment for the 6-14 age group.
  • From 10.3% of 11-14 year old girls not enrolled in schools in 2006, the proportion came down to 4.1% in 2018 and is at 2% in 2022. Save Uttar Pradesh, where it is at 4%, the number is lower across states.

(2) Learning Loss

  • The ASER 2022 report says that children’s basic reading ability has dropped to ‘pre2012 levels, reversing the slow improvement achieved in the intervening years’.
  • The decline is seen across gender and across both government and private schools and is more acute in lower grades.
  • Percentage of children in Class III in govt or private schools who can read at Class II level dropped from 27.3% in 2018 to 20.5% in 2022.
  • Class V students who can at least read a Class II level text fell from 50.5% in 2018 to 42.8% in 2022.
  • Nationally, 69.6% of Class VIII students can read at least basic text in 2022, falling from 73% in 2018.

(3) Arithmetic abilities

  • Students in Class III who are able to at least do subtraction dropped from 28.2% in 2018 to 25.9% in 2022.
  • For Class V, students who can do division has also fallen from 27.9% in 2018 to 25.6% in 2022.
  • Class VIII has done better with an improvement recorded — proportion of children who can do division has increased from 44.1% in 2018 to 44.7% in 2022.
  • ASER says that this increase is driven by improved outcomes among girls as well as among children enrolled in government schools, whereas boys and children enrolled in private schools show a decline over 2018 levels.

(4) Tuition dependency

  • Rural India has been reporting an uptick in Class I-VIII paid tuition classes and it has moved up from 26.4% in 2018 to 30.5% in 2022.
  • In UP, Bihar, and Jharkhand, the proportion of children taking paid private tuition increased by 8 percentage points.

(5) English proficiency

  • ASER recorded English abilities last in 2016 and the trend stays similar till date.
  • Children’s ability to read simple English sentences was at 24.7% in 2016 and is found at 24.5% in 2022.
  • Class VIII has shown some improvement from 45.3% in 2016 to 46.7% in 2022.
  • Children’s basic reading ability has dropped to pre-2012 levels, reversing the slow improvement achieved in the intervening years, while the basic maths skills have declined to 2018 levels nationally.

(6) Schools improvement

  • Average teacher attendance increased from 85.4% in 2018 to 87.1% in 2022, while average student attendance persists at 72% as before.
  • Textbooks had been distributed to all grades in 90.1% of primary schools and in 84.4% of upper primary schools.
  • Fraction of schools with useable girls’ toilets increased from 66.4% in 2018 to 68.4% in 2022.
  • There were 76% schools with drinking water facilities compared with 74.85% in 2018, but there are interstate variations.
  • In 2022, 68.9% schools had a playground, up slightly from 66.5% in 2018.

Way forward:

  • In the past 10 years, we’ve seen improvement, but it has been in small bits. So it means that we really need to shake up things.
  • It is a critical thing for improving the productivity of the country. Business as usual is not going to work.
  • Again, it’s not a new message, but it’s a message that needs to be reiterated.
  • There are Anganwadi everywhere and their enrollment has gone up. Integration between the Anganwadi system and the school system is urgently needed because the work starts there.
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