Assessing Indian school education system - Background and Findings of the ASER Report 2014

Assessing Indian school education system - background and findings of the ASER Report 2014

Q. Discuss the background and findings of the ASER (Annual Status of Education) Report 2014 assessing the Indian school education system?

ASER Report 2014: Highlighting The Gaps in Indian School Education System

A. Background of ASER 2014

1. About ASER Report and Survey

• ASER or Annual Status of Education Report is based on survey conducted by NGO Pratham
• Largest annual household survey of school children in rural India
• Focuses on status of schooling and basic learning
• Facilitated by Pratham, carried out by local organisations and institutions

2. ASER Survey 2014

• This is the 10th annual report on education
• Covered 577 districts, 16,497 villages
• Surveyed 570,000 children between 3 to 16
• Survey conducted in 340,000 households
• 15,026 government schools visited by ASER across rural India

I. Aim of the Survey

• Focus on finding how many children in rural areas go to school
• Whether they can read and do basic mathematics
• Status of schooling and basic learning
• Rate of enrolment
• Infrastructure and improvement in learning levels

ii. Methodology of Survey

• Since 2009, ASER includes visit to one government school in each village sampled
• Since 2010 Right to Education Act, school visits include studying compliance with norms and standards

ASER mobile and tab application
• Released by Rohini Nikekani
• App designed for mobiles and tablets on Android platform
• App enabled surveyors to
-collect survey data
-test children
-record learning outcomes on online platform

B. Key Findings: ASER Report 2014

i. General Conclusions

• Pedagogic system of instruction - a failure
• Overemphasis on curriculum geared only to exam results
• Lack of learning that yields mastery of concepts
• Only small proportion of third-graders cannot read even text from lower grade
• Improvement in later years marginal
• Reading skills not part of classroom activity
• Pupils form higher classes cannot do division or subtraction
• Basic math skills very poor on account of omission from CBSE Class 9th and 10th syllabus
• Close to 6 years, school enrolment above 96% or equivalent in India for 6-14 age group, close to universal enrolment in this age group
• Percentage of children out of school in age group 6-14 remains 3.3%-same as 2013
• Percentage of children who can read Std. II text is low
• Percentage of Std. VIII students who can perform division falls
• Massive fall in ability to read English in upper primary grades

ii. Specific Findings

a. Reading skills among rural school children declines in all states except TN:

• Only 48.1% of Class V children in rural India can read Class II level text
• Improvement from 47% in 2013 though
• Percentage of children able to read Std. II text when in Std. V shot up in TN from 31.9% to 46.9%
• Reading levels in HP and Haryana at 75.2% and 68.1% are higher, they do not differ much from 2013
• Less than 35% of Class V children can read Class II level text in Assam, Jharkhand and MP
• Only 1/4th of children in Class III can read Class II text fluently
• IN 2014, 1/4th of Class III students can read Std. II text fluently
• Even in Class VIII, close to 75% can read Class II text and 25% cannot
• Ability for reading English unchanged for lower primary grades
• 25% children in Class V can read simple English; number virtually the same since 2009
• 60.2% of children in Class VIII can read English which is simple in 2009 yet the figure was 46.8% in 2014
• From all children (all grades) who could read words, around 60% could explain the meanings
• From those who could read sentences, around 62.2% of the Class V students could explain the meanings
• Based on the class, the ability to describe the meaning of words and sentences was higher in previous years
• Percentage of Class V students who can read Class II level text is greater than national average in:
- TN, HP, Haryana, Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka

What lead to TN’s Rise?

- Targeted teaching
- Adequate recruitment - more than 40,000 teachers recruited in past two years
- Teachers told to focus on weaker students
- Use of incentives and specially designed teaching tools
- Focus on improving basics in Tamil and Math in Classes I and II
- Activity based learning introduced in Tamil Schools
- Fixing learning goals and remedial classes for children

b. Decline in reading skills over the years

• In 2009, 60.2% of Class 8 children could read simple English sentences, but figure 46.8% in 2014
• In 2005, 3 of 5 children in Class V could read Class II text
• In 2014, 25% of children in Class V could read simple English sentences and number is same since 2009
• Middle school most affected; In 2009, 60.2% of children in Class 8 could read simple English sentences while it was 46.8% in 2014

c. Massive fall in maths skills

• Only 44.1% of Class 8 students can divide as against 46% in 2013
• In 2012, 26.3% of Class III children could perform 2 digit subtraction while it is 25.3% in 2014
• But ability to do division rose from 24.8% in 2012 to 26.1% in 2014
• Percentage to students who cannot recognise numbers till 9 rose from 11.3% (2009) to 19.5%(2014)
• 26.3% of the Class III students could do 2 digit subtraction in 2012 and the percentage is 25.3% in 2014
• Percentage of children from Class V who could do division rose by around 2% in 2 years though
• Ability to perform division has dropped among Class VIII students. 68.3% could do three digit by one digit division in 2010, 44.1% right now.
• Math skills declined in every state except Karnataka and AP

d. Glass Half Full Than Empty: Some Positive Findings

• In 2014, higher proportion of Class V students in HP, TN, Karnataka, Bihar and Odisha could read Class II level text than in 2013
• RTE and Sarva Shiksha Bahiyan led to improvement in infrastructure in government schools
• More children enrolled in private schools. In 2014, 30.8% aged 6-14 were in private schools as against 29% in 2013 and 16.3% in 2005
• Some improvements in reading were noted:
- Class V children who can read Class II text rose from 46.8% in 2012 to 48.1% in 2014
- 38.7% of Class III students could read Class 1 level text in 2012;this is slightly higher at 40.2% in 2014
- In 2014, higher proportion of children in certain states could read Class II level text when they were in Class V

e. Pupil Teacher Ratios

• Pupil-teacher ratio under Right to Education Act rose
• Went from 45.3% in 2013 to 49.3% in 2014
• Figure in 2010 was 38.9%

f. Gender Divide

• Proportion of girls in age group 11 to 14 remains higher than 8% in certain states
• Percentage is 12.1% in Rajasthan and 9.2% in UP

g. Infrastructure

Drinking Water Provisions

- Percentage of schools with drinking water rose from 72.7% (2010) to 75.6% (2014)
- Drinking water available in more than 85% of schools in Bihar, UP, HP and Gujarat


- Increase in availability of useable toilets since 2010
- In 2014, 65.2% of schools visited had useable toilet facilities
- Figure was 62.6% in 2013 and 47.2% in 2010
- Proportion of schools with useable toilets for girls increased from 32.9%(2010) to 53.3%(2013) and 55.7%(2014)
- Within 4 states, around 75% schools had useable toilets for girls.
- These were Gujarat, HP, Kerala and Haryana


- Availability of computers has risen only slightly
- 19.6% availability in 2014 as against 15.8% in 2010
- 81.3% of schools in Gujarat had computers; number was 89.8% in Kerala, 46.3% in Maharashtra and 62.4% in TN


- Number of schools with libraries has increased to 78.1% in 2014 from 62.6% in 2010
- In 40.7% of schools visited, children were using library books
- In 2010, only 37.9% of students were seen using library books

h. Rate of Enrolment

• Proportion of 15 to 16 year olds not enrolled in school massive
• For rural areas, 17.3% girls and 15.9% boys not in school
• Enrolment higher in private schools
• Higher proportion of boys go to private schools than girls
- In 7 to 10 age group, 35.6% of boys in private schools as against 25.9% of girls in 2014
- In 11 to 14 age group, 33.5% boys in private schools as against 25.9% of the girls for this year
- Exceptions to increase in enrolment in private schools: Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Kerala

• 5 states in India with private school enrolment in elementary stages higher than 50%:

- Manipur at 73.3%
- Kerala at 62.2%
- Haryana at 54.2%
- UP at 51.7%
- Meghalaya at 51.7%

i. School Observations

Schools ASER Visited

• 15,206 government schools with primary sections, of which
- 8844 primary schools
- 6362 upper primary schools with primary sections

School Observation Findings:

• Teacher and children attendance unchanged form last year
• 71.4% of enrolled students in primary schools and 71.1% of those in upper primary schools were present during ASER survey in 2014
• Figures were 70.7% and 71.8% in 2013

• Attendance varied across states
- States with 80-90% attendance: Maharashtra, Karnataka, AP and TN
- States with 50-60% attendance: UP, Bihar, WB, MP and Jharkhand

• Children’s attendance in primary and upper primary schools were higher in 2009; they were 74.3% in primary schools and 77% in upper primary schools
• Small decrease in attendance of teachers since 2009. In primary schools, 2014, 85% teachers were there on day of visit;89.1% in 2009
• In upper primary schools, figure for teacher attendance was 85.8% as against 88.6% in 2009
• Small schools in government primary school sector on rise; around 75% of small schools with total enrolment of 60 or less
• Figure was 26.1% in 2009


The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act stipulates 30:1 ratio and ASER has reported universal enrolment in the 6-14 age group for 6 consecutive years. This is a bright spot in a dismal scenario and unless the Indian education system succeeds, students will continue to be failures when it comes to even basic skills such as reading, writing, counting and measuring.
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