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.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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