ASER 2018- Time to make ‘learning for all’ a national priority

ASER (ANNUAL STATUS OF EDUCATION REPORT), the only national source of information about children’s foundational skills across the country, has been witness to changes in India’s school education landscape over more than a decade now.

With a total of 546,527 children surveyed this year, those in the age group 3 to 16 were surveyed to find out their enrollment status in school or pre-school and those in the age group 5 to 16 were assessed one-on-one to understand their basic reading and arithmetic abilities.

The scatter diagram below (originally produced by The Hindu) shows the wide gulf between the top six States and others in learning levels.

– On the horizontal axis, the percentage of Class VI-VIII students who could carry out the simple division is plotted.
– On the vertical axis, the percentage of Class VI-VIII students who could read Grade II-level text is plotted.
– States are colored based on their geographical location

Some of the key findings are as follows:

  • Only 41% of students (on national average) in Classes VI-VIII in several rural districts can perform division.
  • Students in Manipur & Mizoram had good learning levels while Meghalaya, Tripura & Assam had the worst.
  • Students in Bihar and Tamil Nadu fared badly in reading but had better maths skills.
  • Haryana, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh were among the best in both aspects. The highest proportion of Std V children who can do division are in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab at just over 50%. J&K, M.P., and W.B. were among the worst.

As Rukmini Banerjee states, “We need to believe that the real right to education is not only in terms of years of schooling but ‘value added’ in terms of learning; first foundational skills, then higher level capabilities and knowledge, and finally to being able to cope with a dynamic and changing wide world beyond. All available data shows that India is close to achieving ‘schooling for all’. Now is the time to make ‘learning for all’ a national priority.”

The first and foremost step to lift up the learning trajectory of children is to ensure foundational skills.  Developing one successful model and replicating in state after state is one possibility and way of doing that. A decade ago this was attempted with Activity-Based Learning, ABL, which could not garner much conviction. While a motivated state machinery with leadership and consistent policy backing is the key to big systemic changes, one cannot ignore the role of NGOs and Corporations/Foundations in making a quantum leap in this area.

Here is a call to every corporate house to commit to maximizing support (both financial and human capacity) towards Activity-based learning, which aims to better the fundamental and conceptual understanding of topics. As part of Project Paathshalait is one of our key endeavors to increase volunteer participation in driving this mission, at scale. To know more, get in touch with us.

To know more about ASER 2018, please refer: