State of Education in India : ASER 2009

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) which is facilitated by the NGO Pratham has been released and these are the findings of the report.

From the Press Release:

In 2009, ASER was conducted in 575 districts, over 16,000 villages and 300,000 households, and surveyed almost 700,000 children.

In 2009, we find that 96% of children in the age group 6 to 14 in rural India are enrolled in school. 73% of these children are enrolled in government schools and 21.8 % are enrolled in private schools. In 2006, there were 8 major states that had more than 10% girls in the 11-14 age group who were out of school. These states were Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. All these states have shown a decrease in this number. The steepest drop in the percentage of out of school girls in the age group 11 to 14 is in Bihar where the figure fell from 17.6% in 2006 to 6% in 2009.

On any given day, the average attendance rate in rural India is around 75%. In states like Kerala, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Nagaland, 90% or more children attend school on a given day. But in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh more than 30% children were absent on the day of the visit. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh enrolment is close to 95%, but more than 40% children were absent on day of the visit.

Reading and arithmetic abilities in Std 1 are showing slight improvement.

For higher grades in primary school, there is little evidence of substantial sustained improvement over the past few years. The percentage of children in Std 5 in government schools who can read at Std 2 level has been around 50% for the last four years. This means that half of the children in rural India are at least three grade levels behind where they need to be. Of course there are notable exceptions. From 2006 to 2009, in some states there has been a change of more than 10 percentage points in the proportion of children in Std 5 who can read at Std 2 level. These states are Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In 2009, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal and Maharashtra top the reading chart with
more than 70% children in Std 5 reading Std 2 text fluently.

In maths, the situation is even more worrying. From 2007 to 2009, for children in government schools in Std 5, the ability to do division problems has actually declined from 41% to 36%. Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh record relatively high levels topping the chart in 2009 with over 60% of children in Std 5 able to solve division problems. Chhattisgarh shows that big improvements are possible in a short period of time (31% in 2007 to 59 % in 2008). But overall, hardly any other states show any major improvement in maths.

Interestingly, paid private tuition is on the rise across the country. Between 2007 and 2009, the percentage of children taking paid tuition increased for every class, in both government and private schools. In government schools, 17.1% in Std 1 take tuition and this proportion rises to 30.8% in Std 8. Among children attending private schools, almost a quarter take private tuition even in Std 1.

For a more detailed analysis of the report, click here.


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