ASER (Annual State of Education Report) 2018 was released on 15 January 2019 at India International Center, New Delhi, during the official release event. The report surveys status of children’s education and schooling across rural India. In 2017, ASER conducted a survey called ‘Beyond Basics’ on the age group between 14-18 years across 28 districts in India to get the knowledge of aspirations of the youth and to assess their abilities and skills applied in everyday tasks.
In the 13th report, ASER reversed back to the ‘Basic’ model of assessment for children aged between 3-16 years in 2018. A total of 596 districts, 3,54,944 households, and 5,46,527 children were surveyed in 2018. The reports cover the three major aspects of the status of education – school enrollment and attendance, basic reading and math abilities in children aged between 5-16 years, and school facilities with sports infrastructure was a new addition in 2018 report.
Enrollment in schools
School enrollment for children aged between 6-14 has been above 95% for more than 10 years, the figure has reached 97% in 2018. The children opting out of school has reached below 3% for the first time. Enrollment for girls in schools has improved over time. More than 10% of girls enrolled out of school in 2006, the figure dropped to more than half in 2018 with only 4.1% out of school. Similarly, more than 20% of girls aged between 15-16 years were not enrolled in school at all in 2008; this figure dropped down to 13. 5% in 2008. Enrollment of children in private schools has been consistently increasing over the years.
Reading and mathematical abilities
ASER 2018 reveals that there is a low yet consistent increase in reading abilities among children in primary classes. The mathematical skills of children in class 5 in government schools have increased in states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
In ‘Beyond Basics’ segment of the report, it was found that children aged between 14-16 years showed substantial gender gap in the arithmetic skills such as division in the everyday context. Boys outperformed girls in maths. However, girls performed better than boys where reading skills were concerned in many states.
School and sports infrastructure
The Right to Education Act implemented in 2010 has considerably helped to improve the figure of children receiving compulsory primary education. The availability of school facilities mandated by RTE has improved during the 8 year period to quite an extent. A total of 66.4% of schools have usable girls’ toilet while the figure was just 48% in 2010. However, these figures do not stand true for states like Jammu and Kashmir and major North-eastern states. The 2018 report also revealed that 8 out of 10 schools provided children with playground either inside the school premises or nearby.
Moreover, for the first time, ASER observes that the foundational skills of children more than one grade have improved and sustained for the past few years. The fact also covers the government schools that provide to the underprivileged children.