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From learning to enrollment, India's primary education is in a shambles

Aser surveys children between the ages of 3 and 16 to find out the status of enrolment and foundational skills (literacy and numeracy) across the country

Udit Misra 

From learning to enrollment, India's primary education is in a shambles

The 13th edition of the Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) or Aser was released last week. Over the years, these reports, facilitated by a non-governmental organisation (Pratham), have become the de-facto source for mapping changes in the educational attainment of children in India’s schools. Aser surveys children between the ages of 3 and 16 to find out the status of enrolment and foundational skills (literacy and numeracy) across the country. The 2018 Aser reached out to close to 5,50,000 across almost 600 districts. ALSO READ: Not many teachers, fewer classrooms: schools have a long way to go Chart 1 tries to make sense of achievements on literacy by mapping the percentage of children in government schools in Standard V who can read a Standard II level text. The bad is that between 2008 and 2018, this percentage is distinctly worse off. But the good is the turnaround since 2016. So there is hope that India would be able to improve on literacy in the coming years and decades.

The chart also gives a break-up of states that have shown improvements since 2014 (Group 1), improvements only since 2016 (Group 2) and those that have been inconsistent (Group 3). As one can see, Kerala is almost back to where it was a decade ago but despite recent improvements, states such as Bihar, UP and level. Chart 2 shows how far ahead the private schools are on this metric. And Chart 3 compares the performance of children in Standard VIII, again on the same metric. Charts 4, 5 and 6 show the results of a similar exercise on numeracy. The overall numbers on numeracy are even worse. Chart 7 maps enrolment data by age and gender.

StatsGuru is a weekly feature. Every Monday, Business Standard guides you through the numbers you need to know to make sense of the headlines. Source: Aser 2018; Compiled by BS Research Bureau

First Published: Mon, January 21 2019. 00:03 IST
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