- Recently the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019, released by NGO Pratham.
Key Findings of the Report
- ASER surveyors visited almost 37,000 children between 4 and 8 years in 26 rural districts across 24 States.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 is more productive than an early focus on content knowledge.”
- 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.
- One in four children in India is entering the formal school system earlier than they should be — most of them in government schools — while evidence points to how older children learn better than younger children in the same class.
- 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, whereas their peers whose mothers had studied beyond the elementary stage are more likely to be enrolled in private LKG/UKG classes.
Solutions provided as per 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.