ASER 2018 report released

Substantial growth in Indian educational status

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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.

Beyond Basics

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.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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