Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

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    • The recent ASER Report stated that the learning took a hit in the pandemic year.

    About

    • This is the first survey to indicate how learning levels among school-going children have been impacted because of schools being shut during the pandemic. 
    • The study was conducted in March 2021 among 18,385 children between the ages of 5 and 16 across 24 districts of Karnataka.
    • Although the original plan was to conduct this exercise in several states, it could successfully be completed in only one state, Karnataka, before the second wave of COVID hit the country.

    Key Findings

    • Drop in Skills: A year-and-a-half of Covid-enforced school closures has led to a drop in reading and numeracy skills among children, especially among students in primary classes.
    • Primary classes:
      • Most learning losses
        • The highest level of text given in the ASER reading assessment is from Class 2. 
        • Only 9.8% children in Class 3 in both government and private schools could read the text, down from 18.3% in 2014. 
        • This dip is sharper for private schools — from 23.3% in 2014 to 9.9% now.
      • Numeracy Skills
        • Numeracy skills were impacted too. 
        • For example, the percentage of children in Class 1 who cannot recognise digits between 1 and 9 went up from 29.7% in 2014 to 42.6% in 2020. 
        • For Class 5 students, this figure was 2.3% in 2014 and now stands at 4.6%.
        • The percentage of Class 4 students who can do simple division went down from 12.1% to 3.6% in the same period.
      • Recognition for letters in Kannada:
        • The percentage of students in Class 4, for example, who cannot recognise even a letter in Kannada, went from 5.1% in 2018 to 12% in 2020. 
        • For students in Class I, this percentage dipped from 40.3% in 2018 to 56.8% in 2020.
    • Less Learning losses in higher classes:
      • The learning loss was less acute in higher classes, an indication that reading and numeracy skills set in in the primary years. 
      • Among Class 8 students, for instance, the learning loss in terms of reading fell from 70.6% in 2014 to 66.4% in 2020.

    Suggestions

    • Educational videos: 
      • Educational video, which has helped thousands, can advance learning even beyond the pandemic, using talented teacher-communicators.
    • Continue Monitoring: 
      • When schools reopen, it will be important to continue to monitor who goes back to school as well as to understand whether there is learning loss as compared to previous years.
    • Family Support: 
      • Parents’ increasing levels of education can be integrated into planning for learning improvement, as advocated by National Education Policy, 2020
      • Reaching parents at the right level is essential to understand how they can help their children and older siblings also play an important role.
    • Hybrid Learning: 
      • As children do a variety of different activities at home, effective ways of hybrid learning need to be developed which combine traditional teaching-learning with newer ways of “reaching-learning”.
      • States such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala have already hosted curriculum-based video lessons on the Internet, after beaming them on television.
      • It will take out-of-the-box thinking during the pandemic to come up with interventions that are a substitute for traditional methods and prevent 2020 from becoming a zero year.
    • Observational learning: 
      • Students, specifically for lower classes, could use the safety of the open countryside to learn a variety of topics by doing it themselves, under guidance from teachers. Observational learning like that will create a strong foundation.
    • Assessment of Digital Modes and Content: 
      • In order to improve digital content and delivery for the future, an in-depth assessment of what works, how well it works, who it reaches, and who it excludes is needed.
    • Mediating the Digital Divide: 
      • Children from families who had low education and also did not have resources like smartphones had less access to learning opportunities. 
      • However, even among such households, there is evidence of effort with family members trying to help and schools trying to reach them. 
      • These children will need even more help than others when schools reopen.

    Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

    • Aim:
      • This is an annual survey that aims to provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India. 
    • Origin: 
      • ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in all rural districts of India. 
      • It is the largest citizen-led survey in India. 
    • Only source of information on Children’s learning outcomes:
      • It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India today.
      • Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey
    • Target group: 
      • This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools or anywhere else.
    • Sampling: 
      • In each rural district, 30 villages are sampled. 
      • In each village, 20 randomly selected households are surveyed. 
      • This process generates a total of 600 households per district, or about 3,00,000 households for the country as a whole. 
      • Approximately 7,00,000 children in the age group 3-16 who are residents in these households are surveyed.
      • Information on schooling status is collected for all children living in sampled households who are in the age group 3-16. 
    • Testing: 
      • Children in the age group 5-16 are tested in basic reading and basic arithmetic
      • The same test is administered to all children. 
      • The highest level of reading tested corresponds to what is expected in Std 2;
      • In 2012 this test was administered in 16 regional languages.
      • Every year, some additional tests are also administered. 
      • These vary from year to year. 
    • Basic household information:
      • In addition, basic household information is collected every year. 
      • In recent years, this has included household size, parental education, and some information on household assets.
    • Tools and Procedure:
      • ASER tools and procedures are designed by ASER Centre, the research and assessment arm of Pratham. 
      • The survey itself is coordinated by ASER Centre and facilitated by the Pratham network
      • It is conducted by close to 30,000 volunteers from partner organisations in each district. 
      • All kinds of institutions partner with ASER: colleges, universities, NGOs, youth groups, women’s organisations, self-help groups and others.
    • Becoming Practice Model in other Countries as well:
      • The ASER model has been adapted for use in several countries around the world:
        • Kenya, 
        • Uganda, 
        • Tanzania, 
        • Pakistan, 
        • Mali and 
        • Senegal. 
    • Impact of COVID-19:
      • The COVID-19 crisis interrupted this alternate-year calendar, making it impossible to conduct the nationwide ‘basic’ ASER that was due to be repeated in 2020. 
      • However, the urgent need to systematically examine the effects of the pandemic on schooling and learning opportunities of children across the country was apparent.

    Conclusion

    • The findings show that when children get back to school, we must enable them to learn to read and do basic arithmetic. 
    • We should not worry about grades and curriculum right now. 
    • Without a solid foundation, children cannot progress toward curricular expectations.

    Source: IE