- The latest Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2020) was recently released by the non-profit Pratham Education Foundation.
- The survey was conducted via phone calls, in September, 2020 – the sixth month of national school closures due to the pandemic.
- The survey was conducted in 26 states and four Union Territories and a total of 52,227 households and 59,251 children in the 5-16 age group were surveyed.
- This year the survey explores access to distance education mechanisms, materials and activities for children in rural India.
- It also explores the ways in which children and families are engaging with these remote learning alternatives from their homes.
About: Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)
- ASER 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, since 2005.
- Large sums of money are invested into various social sector programs including education, but lack of information on the impact of these investments is a major barrier in evaluating their effectiveness.
- ASER seeks to use simple yet rigorous methods to generate evidence on the outcomes of such social sector programs.
- It aims to strengthen the link between evidence and actionby building the capacity of individuals and institutions to design, conduct and understand assessments that focus on key outcome indicators.
Summary of the ASER 2020 report
- At the all-India level, there has been a small shift towards government schools between 2018 and 2020, across all grades and among both girls and boys. This could be partly because of economic difficulties due to the pandemic.
- The proportion of boys enrolled in government schools rose from 62.8% in 2018 to 66.4% in 2020. Similarly, the proportion of girls enrolled in government schools rose from 70% to 73% during the same period.
- The survey shows that 5 per cent children are not currently enrolled for the 2020-21 school year, up from 4 per cent in 2018.
- This increase is the highest among the youngest children (ages 6 to 10). 5.3% of rural children aged 6-10 years had not enrolled in school this year, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018.
- This indicates that due to the pandemic, families are waiting for the physical opening of schools to enrol their youngest children.
- Among enrolled children, the percentage of families with at least one smartphone, has increased significantly in the past two years, from 36.5% to 61.8%
- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Tripura have reported more than 30 percent increase in the proportion of children whose families own a smartphone.
- In households where children are enrolled in government schools, the percentage of smartphone ownership has increased from 29.6% in 2018 to 56.2% in 2020.
- In the same period, in households where children are in private schools, the percentage of smartphone ownership has increased by 24% to 74.2% in 2020.
- Despite the high smartphone penetration, only about one-third of them reported getting some form of learning material from their teachers in the week before the survey.
- This proportion was higher in higher grades than in lower grades; and higher among students in private schools than in government schools.
Family support in learning:
- While schools are closed, almost three quarters of all children receive some form of learning support from family members, with older siblings playing an important role in it.
- Children in lower grades get more family support than the children in higher grades. Similarly, children with more educated parents receive more family support than those with less educated parents.
- For example, 54.8 per cent of children whose parents had completed class 5 or less received some form of family support, as compared to 89.4 per cent of children whose parents had studied beyond class 9.
- In a sign that governments have improved their systems to respond to the crisis, overall more than 80 per cent children said they had textbooks for their current grade.
- This proportion was higher among students enrolled in government schools (84.1 per cent) than in private ones (72.2 per cent).
- Across states, the proportion of children with textbooks at home falls below 70% in only three states: Rajasthan (60.4%), Telangana (68.1%), and Andhra Pradesh (34.6%).
- After schools re-open, it will be important to monitor who goes back to school, and whether there is learning loss in students, as compared to previous years.
- Taking note of the high proportion of learning support provided by families, the report recommends that schools must find ways to take advantage of the home support in improving education levels.
- There is a need to invest more in improving the digital infrastructure to aid learning of students.