The ASER, is an annual, citizen-led household survey which seeks to understand whether children in rural India are pursuing education in school and whether they are learning. Since 2005, ASER has been carried out annually in all of India’s rural districts. It’s India’s biggest citizen-led survey to date. ASER surveys provided indicative estimates of the registration status of children between 3-16 and the basic reading and arithmetic levels of children between 5-16 at the national, state and district level. NGO Pratham has issued the 18th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2023, titled “Beyond Basics,” which covers the activities students engage in, their proficiency in basic and applied reading and arithmetic, as well as their knowledge of and proficiency with digital technology.
Government Initiatives in Education include:
National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
Mid Day Meal Scheme
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
PM SHRI Schools
National Education Policy (NEP) 2020: The NEP 2020 provides changes to the education system, which includes the use of mother tongue or native tongue up to class 5, comprehensive education frameworks, and the implementation of exams at different levels. Nonetheless, there are still issues with putting these principles into practice.
The NEP 2020 recommends a target of 6% of GDP for public education spending, emphasizing the need for additional investment.
86.8% of individuals aged 14 to 18 are enrolled in school on average.
Age-specific inequalities are evident, too, with 3.9% of 14-year-olds and 32.6% of 18-year-olds not being enrolled.
Over half of students in Class XI or above (55.7%) are enrolled in the Arts/Humanities programs, which include the majority of students in the 14–18 age group.
Gender disparities exist, since female enrollment in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) stream is lower than that of male enrollment (36.3%).
Only 5.6% are taking vocational training or related courses. College-level students are more likely to have had vocational training (16.2%).
The majority of young people are enrolled in six-month or shorter courses.
Roughly 25% of young people are unable to read a text in their native tongue at the Class II level with fluency.
Three-digit by one-digit division problems are difficult for more than half of the population, and only 43.3% of 14 to 18-year-olds can correctly answer them.
Language and Arithmetic Skills:
Males do better in arithmetic and English reading, whereas females (76%) outperform males (70.9%) when reading a Standard II level text in their native tongue.
Merely 57.3% of individuals possess the ability to comprehend English phrases, and almost 75% of them are aware of their meanings.
Applying Unitary Method:
Using the scale shown, measure the length of the pencil.
Nearly 85% of surveyed youth can measure length using a scale when the starting point is 0 cm.
Digital Awareness and Skills:
Nearly 90% of young people live in households with smartphones, and 43.7% of men possess a smartphone compared to 19.8% of women.
In digital tasks, men typically do better than women, and performance increases with education level and basic reading ability.
Basic Numeracy Skills:
More than half of kids in the 14–18 age range had trouble doing division problems in primary school, and over 45 percent have trouble figuring out how many hours a child slept given their bedtime and wake-up times.
Youth who lack core numeracy abilities find it difficult to manage their budget, apply discounts, calculate interest rates, or handle loan repayments.
Recommendations: With an emphasis on programs for the 14–18 age range, government measures are required to close the gap in fundamental reading and numeracy abilities.
‘Catch-up’ programs are necessary for pupils who have fallen behind academically, according to the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
Initiatives to strengthen young people’s basic reading and numeracy abilities are needed, not just for their everyday needs but also for their academic success.
High Adoption of Smartphones:
Nearly 90% of young people in India are familiar with using and have access to smartphones in their homes. This suggests that this group is widely connected to the internet.
Digital Literacy Gaps by Gender:
There is a notable difference in digital literacy between the sexes. Compared to males, girls are said to be less likely to know how to operate a computer or smartphone.
Ownership of a smartphone was more than twice as common among men (43.7%) as it was among women (19.8%).
When it comes to smartphone ownership, there is a clear gender difference: men are over twice as likely as women to be smartphone owners.
In a variety of digital tasks, boys did better than girls.
Internet Safety Awareness:
Compared to girls, boys are more used to internet safety settings. This implies that focused initiatives are required to inform and empower females about safe online behavior.
Using Smartphones in the Classroom:
Approximately two thirds of smartphone users viewed web content for educational purposes.
Educational Activities Among Non-Enrolled Youth:
A quarter of non-enrolled youth noted participating in educational activities on their smartphones, highlighting the role of digital devices in promoting learning outside formalized educational settings.
Problems With India’s Elementary Education
The provision of basic utilities in schools is an issue, notwithstanding advances in retention rates. Over 10% of schools are without power, even though 95% of them have running water and restrooms.
Furthermore, there is a deficiency in digitalization, with 90% of schools without internet connectivity and over 60% lacking computers.
There has been a movement in favor of private schools throughout time. According to official data, the percentage of government schools in the primary division fell from 87% in 2006 to 62% in March 2020.
The student-teacher ratio is high and there is a teacher shortage in schools. There is a noticeable prevalence of teacher absenteeism and a dependence on contractual instructors.
There is a clear difference in the quality of education between official, well-funded schools and informal, poorly-funded schools.
Social divisions, such as those based on gender, religion, class, or caste, affect the standard of education that is given.
How Can Basic Education Be Improved in India?
Greater Allocation of Resources and Funding:
In order to reach the suggested 6% of GDP for education, as stated in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the government needs increase funding for education.
Funding for training teachers, school infrastructure development, and the provision of basic facilities should be given first priority.
Hiring and Training Teachers:
Get enough skilled teachers hired and trained so that the high ratio of pupils to teachers is decreased.
Put in place mechanisms for ongoing professional development to improve the caliber of instruction.
Taking Care of Dropout Rates:
Determine and deal with the underlying reasons of student dropouts, such as inadequate infrastructure, low educational quality, and socioeconomic issues.
To promote student retention, use focused interventions like mentorship programs and scholarship schemes.
Make investments to build the infrastructures necessary for all schools to have access to basic services including power, potable water, and sanitary facilities.
Encourage the use of technology in the classroom by giving classrooms access to computers and the internet.
Prioritize Education Quality:
Stress the value of a high-quality education over rote retention.
Use assessment techniques and teaching tactics that are focused on the needs of the kid and that promote critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
Observation and Assessment:
To determine if education policies and initiatives are effective, put in place strong monitoring and evaluation systems.
Make necessary adjustments to strategy based on data-driven insights to identify areas that require improvement.
As a country, we need to equip our young people adequately with the essential knowledge, skills, and opportunities they need to drive their own progress and that of their families and communities.