ASER (Annual Status of Education Report)
The largest participative household survey is carried out across rural India. Since its inception in 2005, the ASER has been facilitated by Pratham, a renowned NGO in over 500 rural districts of India. The third Annual Status of Education Report, ASER 2007 conducted in the month of October and November, 2007 was released by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission in New Delhi recently.
Also, further details on the ASER initiative are at (link to the “Knowhow Centre and Affiliated Programmes” section mentioned below)
Highlights of the Report
As expected, private school children are performing better than their government schools counterparts in both language and math. The ASER says that 4.2 percent of children in the 6-14 age-group are not going to school in rural India, down from 6.6 percent in 2006. However, it also estimates that the children's attendance in schools has not improved over the last two years with only about 74 percent of the children on the school roster attending classes on the day of the visit.
One of the major new findings of ASER 2007 is that the proportion of government school children who go to paid tuition classes is about 20 percent. While in the early years of schooling, a higher proportion of private school children take up tuition classes; from Std 5 onwards, the incidence of tuition for both government school and private school children converge to around 25 percent.
First estimates of English reading ability in Rural India ASER 2007 provides the first-ever estimate on English reading ability amongst rural India's children. In Std 5, 28 percent of the children can read simple sentences and 31 percent can read words. Of these children, two-thirds can also tell the meaning of what they have read. In Kerala, over 59 percent of the children can read simple sentences in English. From the Hindi-speaking belt, Himachal Pradesh matches Kerala in English reading ability while Haryana and Bihar also perform relatively well with 47.9 percent and 41.2 percent children in Std 5 being able to read English sentences. Most states start English teaching in early grades.
Various government documents and experts have always stressed the importance of early childhood education. ASER 2007 reports that 75 to 80 percent of the 3-4 year olds are now accessing anganwadi (pre-school). However, at the same time, the proportion of 5 year olds who enter formal school is 62 percent in 2007, up by 15 percentage points over last year. Experts feel that these children are too young to be in school and need a proper kindergarten to ease them into formal education.