Annual State of Education Report
Recently, the Annual State of Education Report (ASER) survey was conducted in September i.e. during the sixth month of school closures due to COVID-19 across the country.
What are the findings of the survey?
- About 20% of rural children have no textbooks at home.
- In Andhra Pradesh, less than 35% of children had textbooks, and only 60% had textbooks in Rajasthan. More than 98% had textbooks in West Bengal, Nagaland and Assam.
- In the week of the survey, about one in three rural children had done no learning activity at all. About two in three had no learning material or activity given by their school that week, and only one in 10 had access to live online classes.
- The levels of smartphone ownership have almost doubled from 2018, but a third of children with smartphone access still did not receive any learning materials.
- It found that 5.3% of rural children aged 6-10 years had not yet enrolled in school this year, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018. This seems to indicate that due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, families are waiting for the physical opening of schools to enrol their youngest children, with about 10% of six-year-olds not in school.
- Among 15-16 year-olds, however, enrolment levels are actually slightly higher than in 2018. Enrolment patterns also show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.
- In 2018, ASER surveyors found that about 36% of rural households with schoolgoing children had smartphones. By 2020, that figure had spiked to 62%. About 11% of families bought a new phone after the lockdown, of which 80% were smartphones.
- WhatsApp was by far the most popular mode of transmitting learning materials to students, with 75% of students who got some input receiving it via the app. About a quarter of those who got input had personal contact with a teacher.
- ASER is a nationwide survey of rural education and learning outcomes in terms of reading and arithmetic skills that has been conducted by the NGO Pratham for the last 15 years. This year, the survey was conducted via phone calls, reaching 52,227 rural households with school age children in 30 States and Union Territories.