Enrollment levels highest in a decade, sharp drop in reading ability of children - ASER 2022 report

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published Published on Jan 19, 2023   modified Modified on Jan 19, 2023

-   Annual Status of Education Report, 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in some of the longest school lockdowns in the world in India. How has it affected learning and literacy? The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2022 reveals a mixed bag of results. Here are the most important findings:

* Enrollment levels have reached the highest level since the implementation of the Right to Education Act was implemented in 2009. The proportion of 6-14 year-olds 'not enrolled' is down to 1.6% – half the level in 2018 and the lowest in the decade. In 2020 and 2021 the proportion of 'not enrolled' was 4.6%. In the 15-16 age group, those most at risk of dropping out, those not enrolled stands at 7.5% in 2022. In 2020 it was 9.9%.

* Learning levels have been sharply impacted by the pandemic. The proportion of children at the All-India level in Std III who could read a Std II level text rose from 23.6% in 2014 to 27.2% in 2018. In 2022, however, there is a big drop in this proportion to 20.5%. The proportion of children in Std V who could read at Std II level text rose from 48% in 2014 to 50.4% in 2018, but fell to 42.8% in 2022. This fall of 7 percentage points in both cases is a huge drop and confirms fears of large learning losses caused by the pandemic.

* The survey revealed that competence in foundational arithmetic has slipped, but not as sharply as reading ability. The proportion of children in Std III who could do at least subtraction is 25.9% in 2022 compared to 28.1% in 2018. Similarly, the proportion of children in Std V who could solve a simple division problem in 2022 is 25.6%, compared to 27.8% in 2018. 

* In 2020 and 2021, schools pivoted to a remote learning environment. Government schools were extremely successful in getting textbooks to children. ASER 2020 revealed that almost 85% children in government schools had textbooks for their current grade. While schools were less successful in getting other learning materials to children, about a third did get other learning resources remotely from their schools. Parents and other family members stepped up to help children with their studies – about 75% children in 2020 got some help from family members. And, finally, the incidence of tuition that had been flat at about 25% for many years, rose sharply to almost 40% in 2021. So, even though schools were closed, children had access to other kinds of learning resources during the pandemic. 

ASER is an annual survey that aims to provide reliable annual estimates of children’s schooling status and basic learning levels for each state and rural district in India. It is a household survey, and not a school-based survey. This enables all children to be included. 30 villages are sampled in each district, and in each village 20 households are randomly selected. The survey design results in 600 households per district, or about 300,000 households totally. Approximately 600,000 children in the age group 3-16 in these households are surveyed. 

Please click here to read the report

ASER 2022, 18 January, 2023, http://img.asercentre.org/docs/ASER%202022%20report%20pdfs/All%20India%20documents/ASER%202022/ASER%202022%20Report.pdf

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