Annual State of Education Report (ASER) 2021 – UPSC GS2

ASER Survey:
  • The ASER survey is facilitated by Pratham Education Foundation.
  • It is the oldest survey of its kind in the country.
  • The survey is known for the range of insights it provides on levels of foundational learning at the elementary level.
ASER 2021 Survey
  • The 2021 survey was based on a household-based telephonic survey conducted in rural areas across 581 districts in 25 states and three Union Territories.
  • Aim: To understand the transition when it comes to the education system of India as the COVID-19 scare comes down.
  • The survey assesses enrolment in schools and tuition classes and access to devices and learning resources rather than the organisation’s usual face-to-face survey which assesses learning outcomes and children’s competencies in reading and arithmetic skills.
  • Unlike other ASER reports that are focused on learning outcomes, 2020 and 2021 reports are focused on rural school education levels in a post-pandemic world. It also captures trends during the early phases of partial school reopening.
What are the Key findings of ASER 2021?
  • Increase in Enrolment in Government Schools: There has been an overall increase in the proportion of children enrolled in Govt schools. Around 70.3% of children in India enrolled in government schools in 2021 up from 65.8% in 2020 and 64.3% in 2018.
  • The enrolment rate in private schools has decreased as compared to last year. In 2020, the enrolment rate was 28.8%, which decreased to 24.4% in 2021.
  • Reason for Shift to Government Schools: 1. Result of financial distress, 2. The closure of affordable private schools, 3. The movement of migrants to rural areas.
  • Tuition Dependent: There was a 40% increase in the number of school-going children taking tuition during the closure of their schools amid the pandemic.
  • Digital Divide: The youngest learners have the “least access to technology”. Almost a third of all children in Classes I and II did not have a smartphone available at home.
  • Smartphone penetration in rural India had grown from 36.5% in 2018 to 62% in 2020. 68% of enrolled children had at least one smartphone at home, but their percentage varied sharply between children attending government schools (63.7%) and private ones (79%). In states like Bihar, UP, the lack of access varied from 54 to 34%.
  • Almost one in every three children in Classes I and II have never attended in-person classes before.
What are the suggestions provided by the ASER Report?
Government should focus more on the digital infrastructure, especially in the remote areas where more disruptions are visible.

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