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Beyond Basics: The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

  • Category
  • Published
    20th Jan, 2024


About the Report

  • It is conducted by an NGO/ Civil society Pratham
  • Assessed group-Rural students aged 14 to 18 years.
  • The survey was conducted in 28 districts across 26 states and it assessed the foundational reading and arithmetic abilities of 34,745 students.
  • Assessment was done in the activities students are engaged in, their basic and applied reading and math abilities and digital awareness and skills.

Findings from the report

  • Enrolment:8% of 14-18-year-olds are enrolled in an educational institution. The percentage of youth not enrolled is 3.9% for 14-year-old youth and is 32.6% for 18-year-olds. This denotes the Small gender gaps in enrolment, but notable differences by age.
  • Stream preferences and Gender Gap: Most of the people in this age group were enrolled in the Arts/Humanities streams. In Class XI or higher, more than half are enrolled in the Arts/Humanities stream (55.7%) and females are less likely to be enrolled in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics stream (28.1%) than males (36.3%).
  • Basic abilities: Only 5.6% of surveyed youth report taking vocational training or other related courses currently. Youth at the college level are the most likely to be taking vocational training (16.2%).
  • Preferences for Short duration courses: The survey found adding that most youth are taking short duration courses of six months or less.

Glaring picture on Basic learning: about 25% still cannot read a Class II level text fluently in their regional language. More than half struggle with division (3-digit by 1-digit) problems. Only 43.3% of 14-18-year-olds are able to do such problems correctly. This skill is usually expected in Standard III/IV.

  • A little over half can read sentences in English (57.3%).
  • Of those who can read sentences in English, almost three quarters can tell their meanings (73.5%).
  • While females (76%) do better than males (70.9%) in reading a Standard II level text in their regional language, males do better than females in arithmetic and English reading.
  • Of the youth who can do subtraction or more, over 60% are able to do the budget management task, about 37% can apply a discount, but only about 10% can calculate repayment.

Digital skills: Close to 90% of all youth have a smartphone in the household and know how to use it. Of those who can use a smartphone, males (43.7%) are more than twice as likely to have their own smartphone as females (19.8%).

  • Females are less likely to know how to use a smartphone or computer as compared to males.
  • Across all tasks using mobile phones, males outperformed females.
  • Performance on digital tasks improves with education level. The ability to do digital tasks increases with basic reading proficiency.

About ASER Report

  • It is a large-scale citizen-led household survey Facilitated by Pratham Education Foundation since 2005.
  • It aims to understand whether children in rural India are enrolled in school and whether they are learning.
  • The basic, nationwide ASER survey is conducted every alternate year. It collects data on the enrolment status of children in the age group of 3-16 years, and basic reading and arithmetic levels of children in the age group of 5-16 years.

Why focus on the 14-18 age group?

  • India has the largest youth population in the world. It is important to ensure that these young people have the skills and the opportunities needed to help them build a better future for themselves, their families, and for the country.
  • The National Youth Policy 2021 articulates a ten-year vision for youth development aiming to ‘unlock the potential of the youth to advance India’, and catalyse development across education, employment and entrepreneurship, youth leadership and development, health and fitness, and social justice.
  • The Right to Education Act (RTE) guarantees free and compulsory education up to the age of 14, by when most children complete Std VIII.
  • It is important to understand children’s pathways after leaving elementary school, before they become adults at the age of 18.
  • Their preparedness to take on adult responsibilities is crucial to their personal, social and professional success in the future.

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