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Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018

Topics Covered:

  1. The role of NGOs.
  2. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
  3. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, etc.


Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Brief overview of stats.
  • For Mains: Concerns, challenges highlighted by the survey and ways and measures needed to address them.


Context: The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018 has been published by education non-profit Pratham. The latest report collected data from 596 districts by surveying 546,527 students from 354,944 homes.

  • The survey shows the prevalence of learning deficit and the poverty of basic reading and arithmetic skills among students in Indian schools.


Highlights of the report:

  • Indian students, especially those in elementary school (Classes I-VIII), are not learning enough. To cite a metric, only half (50.3%) of all students in Class V can read texts meant for Class II students.
  • There seems to have been some improvement in learning levels, especially among students of Class III and Class V, in 2018 compared with those of the previous five years. However, the improvement is not visible at a higher level, for example among students of Class VIII.
  • The deficit is across government and private schools. Traditionally, students in private schools have fared better than their government school counterparts, but that’s a relative situation. For example, while 40% of Class VIII students in government schools can do simple division, the figure is 54.2% in private schools.
  • However, there is gradual improvement in some segments and in some states. The reading ability among Class V students in Kerala jumped 10 percentage points in 2018 from that in 2016. In Himachal Pradesh, the growth is nearly 8 percentage points and in Chhattisgarh and Odisha it is around 7 percentage points between 2016 and 2018.
  • While 30.9% of students in the 6-14 age group were in private schools in 2018, the figure was 30.6% in 2016 and 30.8% in 2014. This is less than a percentage point growth since 2014.


Concerns over the poor quality of education and its effects on the workforce of the country:

This poor learning outcome in India is despite the Right to Education (RTE) Act having been in force since April 2010 making eight years of education compulsory for children and the Centre floating schemes such as “Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat”, apart from states’ efforts.

Access to elementary (classes I-VIII) schooling is almost universal and the number of children out of schools is below 4%, but a quality deficit, that too for more than a decade, raises questions about the priorities of governments at the central and state levels.

Last year, the World Bank said Indians born today are likely to be just 44% productive as workers, way below their Asian peers.


Why be concerned about quality of education?

India’s demographic dividend depends on the learning level of students. The quality of education has a direct bearing on any economy. With some 240 million students or nearly 20% of the Indian population in school, their quality of learning or lack of it assumes significance for the competitiveness of the country. It has an impact on the quality of life, efficiency at the workplace, and labour productivity issues.


Way ahead:

It is a long time to have only awareness, and a quantum jump in the education sector is the need of the hour. As the problem has now been diagnosed and public advocacy has got the momentum, the governments and civil society need to focus on three aspects—a bigger spending on education, maybe 6% of GDP instead of the present 2.7%, political willingness to improve education, and a drastic change in the quality of teacher education.


Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Despite the RTE Act being more than a decade old, educational outcomes in India continue to remain poor. Examine. (250 words)