From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : ASER
Mains level : Highlights of ASER 2019
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019 (rural) was recently released by NGO Pratham.
Highlights of the report
- Only 16% of children in Class 1 in 26 surveyed rural districts can read text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognise letters.
- Only 41% of these children could recognise two digit numbers.
Private schools ahead
- Of six-year olds in Class 1, 41.5% of those in private schools could read words in comparison to only 19% from government schools.
- Similarly, 28% of those in government schools could do simple addition as against 47% in private schools.
- This gap is further exacerbated by a gender divide: only 39% of girls aged 6-8 are enrolled in private schools in comparison to almost 48% of boys.
- The report also found that a classroom could include students from a range of age-groups, skewing towards younger children in government schools.
Determinants of learning outcomes
- The ASER report shows that a large number of factors determine the quality of education received at this stage, including the child’s home background, especially the mother’s education level; the type of school, whether anganwadis, government schools or private pre-schools; and the child’s age in Class 1.
- More than a quarter of Class 1 students in government schools are only 4 or 5 years old, younger than the recommended age.
- The ASER data shows that these younger children struggle more than others in all skills.
- Permitting underage children into primary grades puts them at a learning disadvantage which is difficult to overcome,” said the report.
Role of Mothers
- Among the key findings of ASER 2019 is that the mother’s education often determines the kind of pre-schooling or schooling that the child gets.
- The report says that among children in the early years (ages 0-8), those with mothers who had completed eight or fewer years of schooling are more likely to be attending anganwadis or government pre-primary classes.
- With 75% women in the productive age group not in the workforce, they can be better engaged in their children’s development, learning and school readiness.
Key suggestions made by the report
- ASER found that the solution is not to spend longer hours teaching children the 3Rs.
- Counter-intuitively, the report argues that a focus on cognitive skills rather than subject learning in the early years can make a big difference to basic literacy and numeracy abilities.
- The survey shows that among Class 1 children who could correctly do none or only one of the tasks requiring cognitive skills, about 14% could read words, while 19% could do single digit addition.
- However, of those children who could correctly do all three cognitive tasks, 52% could read words, and 63% could solve the addition problem.
Focus on productive learning
- ASER data shows that children’s performance on tasks requiring cognitive skills is strongly related to their ability to do early language and numeracy tasks,” says the report.
- This suggests that focussing on play-based activities that build memory; reasoning and problem-solving abilities are more productive than an early focus on content knowledge.
- Global research shows that 90% of brain growth occurs by age 5, meaning that the quality of early childhood education has a crucial impact on the development and long-term schooling of a child.