Last child matters + Annual State of Education Report (ASER) 2020

GS 2 GOVERNANCE Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Introduction 

     Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is a nationwide survey of rural education and learning outcomes in terms of reading and arithmetic skills in the age group of 5-16 years.

     It is conducted by the NGO Pratham for the last 15 years.

  • Recently, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020 has been published with the key findings for the year 2020.
  • In the backdrop of Pandemic, the survey was conducted via phone calls, reaching 52,227 rural households with school-age children in 26 States and 4 Union Territories.

Access to textbooks

  • 20% of rural children have no textbooks at home.
  • This proportion students having textbooks is higher among students enrolled in government schools (84.1%) than in private schools (72.2%)
    • In Andhra Pradesh, less than 35% of children had textbooks,
    • only 60% had textbooks in Rajasthan
    • More than 98% had textbooks in West Bengal,Nagaland and Assam.

Enrolment

  • It found that 5.3% of rural children aged 6-10 years had not yet enrolled in school this year, 
    • 1.8% in 2018.
  • Among 15-16-year-olds, however, enrolment levels are actually slightly higher than in 2018.

Enrolment in Government schools

  • Enrolment patterns also show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.
  • 55% children in the 6-14 age groups are enrolled in government schools, 
    • 66.42% in 2018.
  • Proportion of boys enrolled in government schools rose from 62.8% in 2018 to 66.4% in 2020.
  • Proportion of girls enrolled in government schools rose from 70% to 73%.

Smartphones related

  • 24.3% of the children had not received any learning material from the school in the week the survey was held because they had no Smartphone.
  • 6% of students in government schools without access to a smartphone
  • Regardless of school type, WhatsApp was the most common medium through which activities and materials were received. 
  • However, this proportion was much higher among children in private schools (87.2%) than those in government schools (67.3%).

Family education

  • Almost 40% in low education households got no materials and did no learning, compared to 17% of high education families.

Learning activities

  • one in three rural children had done no learning activity at all.
  • About two in three had no learning materials or activity given by their school that week, 
  • only one in ten had access to live online classes.

Important observations 

  • Inherited disadvantages continue to affect the quality of learning
  • Low education of families affecting their children’s education.
  • Lack of structured learning
    • Students in rural areas have received very marginal assistance in the form of structured learning from teachers. 
    • They mostly had to rely on parents and siblings to study at home.

Opportunities, required to be materialized

  • Observational learning: Students, in lower classes, could use the safety of the open countryside to learn a variety of topics by doing themselves, under guidance from teachers. 
    • will create a strong foundation.
  • Educational videos: Educational video, which has helped thousands, can advance learning even beyond the pandemic.
    • using talented teacher-communicators.
  • Case studies: States such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala have already hosted curriculum-based video lessons on the Internet, after beaming them on television.
  • It will take out-of-the-box thinking during the pandemic to come up with interventions that are a substitute for traditional methods and prevent 2020 from becoming a zero year.

Way Forward 

  • Observation of enrolment: As soon as the schools open, 
    • it will be important to observe, what percentage of students go back to schools
    • whether there is learning loss as compared to previous years.
  • Reaching parents at the right level:  It is important to note that 80% of families provided learning support to children
    • now schools should find ways to build on that home support. 
    • “Reaching parents at the right level” 
      • to understand how they can help their children.
  • Promoting Hybrid learning: Centre and State governments should plan remedial measures to make “Hybrid learning” possible for students that combine traditional teaching-learning with newer ways of “reaching-learning”.
  • Study material:  Schools opting out for a hybrid solution of partial reopening and online learning 
    • should ensure expanding the availability of textbooks for all students 
    • including those who dropped out or waiting to be formally admitted
  • Mediating the “digital divide”: Government must try to bridge the digital divide by providing the needy families with the necessary support in terms of equipment and access to the internet.

Conclusion        

 The idea behind early childhood education is not more institutionalisation in the form of private pre-schools or play schools but to involve children through cognitive tasks that mainly involve play.

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