Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Assessing the Learning of the School Children


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NEP

Mains level: NEP, ASER survey findings


  • The Covid pandemic had caused schools to shut down in March 2020, and India had one of the longest school closures in the world primary schools were closed for almost two years. The impact of the pandemic on the education sector was feared to be twofold learning loss associated with long school closures, and higher dropout rates, especially among older children, due to squeezed family budgets.

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ASER survey during the pandemic

  • Assessing the learning losses: Estimates from these three state-level surveys could be used to understand the extent of children’s learning losses. These state level estimates are extremely useful as they are the only ASER estimates of learning we have between 2018 and 2022.
  • Rising learning level pre-pandemic: For the country as a whole, learning levels had been rising slowly between 2014 and 2018, after being stagnant for several years. For example, at the all-India level, the proportion of children in Class III who could read a Class II level text (a proxy for grade-level reading) had risen from 23.6 per cent in 2014 to 27.2 per cent in 2018.
  • Big fall during pandemic: ASER 2022 shows a big drop in this proportion to 20.5 per cent. This 7-percentage point fall is huge, given how slowly the all-India numbers move and confirms fears of large learning losses caused by the pandemic.
  • Higher losses in math: In math also, learning levels had risen slowly between 2014 and 2018. The 2022 estimates show a drop here as well although much smaller than in the case of reading.

Case study of three states- Karnataka Chhattisgarh and West Bengal

  • Assess learning levels in three states: Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal in 2021, when schools were still closed or had just reopened. While these are not national estimates, they provide an interim measurement that is more reflective of pandemic-induced learning losses than the estimates for 2022.
  • Reading and math losses: Across all three states, there were large learning losses in both reading and math in 2021 in excess of 7 percentage points, except in the case of Std V in West Bengal. The loss in reading is a little higher, though not by much.
  • Learning losses was much below 2014 levels: In both reading and math, the 2021 learning levels in these three states fell below their 2014 levels. A year later, ASER 2022 data shows that across all three states, there has been a recovery in both reading and math (except Karnataka in reading and West Bengal in reading in Std V) after schools reopened in 2021-22.
  • Recovery still below pandemic: In other words, while the 2022 learning levels were still below or in some cases close to the 2018 levels, comparing 2018 with 2022 hides the dramatic fall in learning levels observed between these two points and the subsequent recovery that has happened in the last year.

 Impact of New Education Policy

  • Focus on foundational competency: Another big development during 2020-21 was the introduction of the new National Education Policy (NEP) in 2020. For the first time, there was a big focus on the early years and the importance of foundational competencies.
  • Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN): Once schools reopened, states moved quickly and almost all states have made a major push in the area of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) under the NIPUN Bharat mission (National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy). This push is reflected in the ASER 2022 data.
  • Directive for NEP Implementation: As part of the survey, ASER field investigators visited one government school in each of the sampled village to record enrolment, attendance and school facilities. This year we also asked whether schools had received any directive from the government to implement FLN activities in the school and whether teachers had been trained on FLN. At the all-India level, 81 per cent schools responded that they had received such a directive and 83 per cent said that at least one teacher in the school had been trained on FLN.

Recovery of learning losses

  • Partial recovery in some states: Extrapolating from the experience of the three states for which we have 2021 data, we can assume that other states also experienced large learning losses during the pandemic. However, once schools reopened, states made a concerted effort to build or re-build foundational competencies, which has resulted in a partial and in some cases, a full recovery.
  • Earliest open, recovered faster: The extent of the recovery varies across states depending on how long their schools were closed as well as when they initiated learning recovery measures. For instance, Chhattisgarh was one of the earliest states to reopen their primary schools in July 2021, giving them a longer period to work with children, as compared to, for instance, Himachal Pradesh or Maharashtra, where schools reopened much later.
  • Remarkable recovery by Chhattisgarh: Taking into account the 2021 figures, the 2022 estimates for Chhattisgarh point to a remarkable recovery, in both reading and math, that is hidden if we just compare 2022 with 2018.
  • Lack of data for many states: In the absence of a 2021 measurement for other states, it is difficult to say what the original pandemic-induced learning loss was from which states are aiming to recover.


  • As per the ASER survey learning losses of the student have been recovered quickly than expected. NEP looks very promising for better learning outcomes for children and college students. Every state and union territory should implement the NEP in its entirety.

Mains Question

Q. Analyze the learning outcomes and recovery of children based on ASER survey. What is impact of NEP on recovery of learning outcome after pandemic?

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