From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : ASER
Mains level : State of school education in India
The ASER Wave 1 Survey was recently released since the COVID-19 crisis interrupted this years’ trajectory.
Practice question for mains:
Q.Discuss the efficacy of the One-Nation- One-Board System and its limitations.
About ASER Survey
- This is an annual survey (published by education non-profit Pratham ) that aims to provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India.
- ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in all rural districts of India. It is the largest citizen-led survey in India.
- It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India.
How is the survey conducted?
- 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.
- The ASER model has been adapted for use in several countries around the world: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Pakistan, Mali and Senegal.
- Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey.
- 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.
- In each rural district, 30 villages are sampled. In each village, 20 randomly selected households are surveyed.
- Information on schooling status is collected for all children living in sampled households who are in the age group 3-16.
- 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.
- In recent years, this has included household size, parental education, and some information on household assets.
- 5.5% of rural children are not currently enrolled for the 2020school year, up from 4% in 2018.
- This difference is the sharpest among the youngest children (6 to 10) where 5.3% of rural children had not yet enrolled in school in 2020, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018.
- Due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, families are waiting for the physical opening of schools to enrol their youngest children, with about 10% of six-year-olds not in school.
- Among 15-16 year-olds, however, enrollment levels are slightly higher than in 2018.
- The proportion of boys enrolled in government schools has risen from 62.8% in 2018 to 66.4% in 2020, while for girls, that number has gone up from 70% to 73% in the corresponding period.
- Patterns show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.
- The Centre has now permitted States to start reopening schools if they can follow Covid-19 safety protocols but the majority of the country’s 25 crore students are still at home.
2.Availability of Smartphones:
- Among enrolled children, 61.8% live in families that own at least one smartphone which was merely 36.5% in 2018.
- About 11% of families bought a new phone after the lockdown, of which 80% were smartphones.
- WhatsApp is by far the most popular mode of transmitting learning materialsto students, with 75% of students receiving input via this app.
3.Availability of Learning Material:
- Overall more than 80% of children said they had textbooks for their current grade.
- This proportion was higher among students enrolled in government schools (84.1%) than in private ones (72.2%).
- In Bihar, less than 8% got such materials from their schools, along with 20% in West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
- More than 80% of rural children in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat received such input.
- Most children (70.2%) did some form of a learning activity through material shared by tutors or family members themselves, with or without regular input.
- 11% had access to live online classes, and 21% had videos or recorded classes, with much higher levels in private schools.
- About 60% studied from their textbooks and 20% watched classes broadcast on TV.
- Fluid Situation: 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 lossas compared to previous years.
- Building on and Strengthening 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”.
- 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.
- Covid-19 has left the nation with deep economic distress and uncertainty over school-reopenings and thrown open new challenges in every sector.
- The nationally representative sample highlighted the role played by the families where everyone in the family supported children regardless of their education levels.
- This strength needs to be leveraged by reaching out to more students and reducing the distance between schools and homes.