16 January, 2015

10th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2014) released

The Annual Status of Education Report, ASER 2014 was released in New Delhi today. Thisis the tenth annual report.

ASER is the largest annual household survey of children in rural India that focuses on thestatus of schooling and basic learning. Facilitated by Pratham, in each rural district ASERis conducted by local organizations and institutions. ASER 2014reached 577 districts and16,497 villages, and about 570,000 children in the age group 3-16 were surveyed in justover 340,000 households.

Every year, ASER finds out whether children in rural India go to school, whether they canread simple text and whether they can do basic arithmetic. In 2005, 2007, and everyyear since 2009, ASER has also included a visit to one government school in eachsampled village. Since the implementation of the RTE Act in 2010, school visits in ASERhave included indicators of compliance with those norms and standards specified in theRight to Education Act that are easy to measure. In 2014, ASER visited 15,206government schools across rural India.

The release event was attended by representatives from ASER's key partner organizations.Yamini Aiyar, Director, Accountability Initiative, said about ASER, "knowledge is most powerful when it is not complicated", referring to how citizens of India through their participation in ASER are asking simple questionsabout whetherchildren are learning and are demystifying what is meant by "learning" to communitiesacross the country.Other speakers included Baela Raza Jamil, ITA, ASER Pakistan;SaraRuto from Uwezo, East Africa; Ajay Piramal, Chairman of the Piramal Group; Ruth Levine,development economist and expert in international development, global health andeducation; Dinyar Devitre, Chairman, Pratham USA; Rukmini Banerji, Director, ASERCentre; and Madhav Chavan, Co-founder and Chairman, Pratham Education Foundation.The Annual Status of Education Report was released by ASER partners, and ASER andPratham Board Members. The ASER application, designed for mobiles and tablets on theAndroid platform, was released by Rohini Nilekani. The app enables surveyors to collectsurvey data, test children and record learning outcomes on a digital platform.


2014 is the sixth year in a row that enrolment levels are 96% or higher for the 6-14 agegroup. The proportion of children currently not in school remains at 3.3%.

• India is close to universal enrolment for the age group 6-14, with the percentageof children enrolled in school at 96% or above for six years in a row.

• Nationally, the percentage of children out of school (age group 6-14) remains at3.3%, the same as the figure last year.

• In some states the proportion of girls (age group 11-14) out of school remainsgreater than 8%. These states are Rajasthan (12.1%) and Uttar Pradesh (9.2%)

• Although enrolment levels are very high for the age group covered by the Rightto Education Act (i.e. 6 to 14 years), the proportion of 15 to 16 year olds notenrolled in school is substantial. Nationally, for rural areas, 15.9% of boys and17.3% of girls in this age group are currently out of school.

The proportion of children enrolled in private schools has increased slightly from lastyear.

• In 2014, 30.8% of all 6-14 year old children in rural India are enrolled in privateschools. This number is up slightly from 29% in 2013.

• As in previous years, in each age group, a higher proportion of boys go to privateschools as compared to girls. In 2014, in the age group 7-10 years, 35.6% of boysare enrolled in private schools as compared with 27.7% of girls. For the age groupof 11-14 years, 33.5% of boys are in private schools as compared to 25.9% ofgirls.

• Compared to similar figures in 2013, there has been an increase in private schoolenrolment in almost all states. The only exceptions to this are Gujarat,Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Kerala.

• Five states in India now have private school enrolment rates in the elementarystage that are greater than 50%. These are Manipur (73.3%), Kerala (62.2%),Haryana (54.2%), Uttar Pradesh (51.7%), and Meghalaya (51.7%).

Reading levels remain low and unchanged.

• Overall, the situation with basic reading continues to be extremely dishearteningin India. In 2014, in Std III, only a fourth of all children can read a Std II textfluently. This number rises to just under half in Std V. Even in Std VIII, close to75% children can read Std II level text (which implies that 25% still cannot).

• Some very small improvements in reading are visible in the last few years. Forexample, the proportion of Std V children who can at least read a Std II level texthas inched upwards from 46.8% in 2012 to 47% in 2013 and to 48.1% in 2014.38.7% of Std III children could read at least a Std I level text in 2012. This numberis slightly higher at 40.2% in 2014.

• In some states, reading levels have improved since last year. For example, in 2014a higher proportion of children in Std V in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar,Odisha and Karnataka can at least read Std II level text than was the case lastyear. Tamil Nadu shows major gains in reading over last year for Std V.

• Looking at trends over time, in many states the reading status of children islargely unchanged. However in some states, like Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand,Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra there are visible declines inreading levels over the last 5-6 years.

Math continues to be a serious and major source of concern.

• The All India (rural) figures for basic arithmetic have remained virtuallyunchanged over the last few years. In 2012, 26.3% of Std III children could do atwo digit subtraction. This number is at 25.3% in 2014. For Std V children, theability to do division has increased slightly from 24.8% in 2012 to 26.1% in 2014.

• There are other trends which are quite worrying. For example, the percentage ofchildren in Std II who still cannot recognize numbers up to 9 has increased overtime, from 11.3% in 2009 to 19.5% in 2014.

• Similarly, the ability to do division among Std VIII students has been droppingsince 2010. The proportion of Std VIII students who could correctly do a threedigit by one digit division problem was 68.3% in 2010. This number has droppedto 44.1% in 2014.

• Few changes are visible since last year (except in Tamil Nadu where there areimprovements). However looking over a five to eight year period, it is clear thatmath levels have declined in almost every state. Karnataka and Andhra Pradeshare the exceptions where the situation has been more or less the same for thepast several years.

Ability to read English is unchanged for lower primary grades.

Assessments of basic English have been carried out in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2014.

• Children's ability to read English is relatively unchanged in lower primary grades.In 2014, about 25% of children enrolled in Std V could read simple Englishsentences. This number is virtually unchanged since 2009.

• However, a decline is visible in upper primary grades. For example, in 2009,60.2% of children in Std VIII could read simple sentences in English but in 2014,this figure is 46.8%.

• In 2014, of those who can read words (regardless of grade), roughly 60% couldexplain the meanings of the words read. Of those who can read sentences,62.2% in Std V could explain the meaning of the sentences. Depending on theclass, the ability to say the meaning (of words and sentences) was higher inprevious years.

School observations

ASER 2014 visited 15,206 government schools with primary sections. Of these 8,844were primary schools and 6,362 were upper primary schools which also had primarysections.

Teacher and child attendance show no major changes from last year.

• In 2014, ASER data indicates that 71.4% of enrolled children in primary schoolsand 71.1% of enrolled children in upper primary schools were present on the dayof the visit. In 2013, these figures were 70.7% in primary schools and 71.8% inupper primary schools.

• As in previous years, children's attendance varies considerably across thecountry. States like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Gujarat,Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu haveattendance levels that range from 80 to 90%. But in states like Uttar Pradesh,Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Madhya Pradesh, attendance rates are muchlower and range from 50 to 60%.

• Trends over time show that children's attendance both in primary and upperprimary schools was higher in 2009 as compared to 2014. In 2009, attendancewas at 74.3% in primary schools and 77% in upper primary schools.

• Since 2009, there has been a small decrease in the attendance rates of teachers.For primary schools, in 2014, 85% of appointed teachers were present in schoolon the day of the visit as compared to 89.1% in 2009. The 2014 figure for teacherattendance in upper primary schools is 85.8% as against 88.6% in 2009.

The proportion of "small schools" in the government primary school sector continuesto grow.

• Of the government primary schools visited in 2014, over one third are "smallschools" with a total enrolment of 60 children or less.

• In 2009, the percentage of government primary schools visited that were "small"was 26.1%.

For the most part, improvement in school facilities continues.

• The percentage of schools complying with RTE mandated pupil-teacher ratios hasincreased from 45.3% last year to 49.3% in 2014. In 2010, this figure was 38.9%.

• Nationally, as far as office/store, playground, boundary wall and kitchen shed areconcerned, progress is visible from year to year.

• With respect to drinking water provision and availability, drinking water wasavailable in 75.6% of the schools that were visited. In 2010, this figure was 72.7%.In four states (Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh), drinkingwater was availablein more than 85% of schools.

• ASER records whether toilets are available and useable on the day of the visit.Since 2010, there has been significant progress in the availability of useabletoilets. Nationally in 2014, 65.2% of schools visited had toilet facilities that wereuseable. In 2013, this figure was 62.6% and in 2010, it was 47.2%). Theproportion of schools visited where girls' toilets were available and useable hasgone up from 32.9% in 2010 to 53.3% in 2013 to 55.7% in 2014. In four states,more than 75% of schools visited had useable girls' toilets. These states areGujarat, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.

• There is a small increase in the availability of computers in the schools visited.The 2014 figure stands at 19.6%, as compared to 15.8% in 2010. Several statesstand out in this regard. In Gujarat, 81.3% of schools visited had computers; thisnumber was 89.8% in Kerala, 46.3% in Maharashtra and 62.4% in Tamil Nadu.

• The proportion of schools with libraries has increased substantially, from 62.6%in 2010 to 78.1% in 2014. In about 40.7% of schools that were visited, childrenwere seen using library books as compared to 37.9% in 2010.

To mark the 10ththe tenth anniversary of ASER several interesting panel discussions havebeen scheduled in this a day and half event, which is being attended by about 100district level organizations and institutions from across India, who have been ASERpartners over the years. In addition partners from overseas are also in attendance.Inspired by the ASER model, eight countries now conduct similar initiatives. The leadersof these efforts in Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Senegal, Nigeria and Mexicowill share their experiences on the morning of January 14th.


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