The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is the largest non-governmental household survey undertaken in rural India and is facilitated by the Pratham Education Foundation.
‘ASER’ means impact in Hindi. True to its meaning, the survey measures the enrolment status of children between 3-16 and tests the basic reading and arithmetic abilities of children between 5-16 through a detailed process that uses a common set of testing tools and a comprehensive sampling framework.
In each rural district, a local institution carries out the survey. The entire pan-Indian process is completed within approximately 100 days and the report is released in January each year. The findings are disseminated widely within the government and elsewhere at the national, state, district and village levels. It also has received wide acclaim in the international media.
ASER has become an important factor in the education policies of both the Central and State Governments with several State Governments using the findings to help define their education programmes each year. The findings of the survey have been cited in the approach paper to the 11th Planning Commission and the Economic Survey of India.
The 2016 ASER Report surveyed 589 districts, 17,473 villages, 350,232 households and 562,305 children and involved 499 partner organisations and 25,000 volunteers, reaching some of the remotest areas of the country.
According to Dr. Rukmini Banerjee, CEO of Pratham Education Foundation the key finding of the survey amongst other revelations is:
“Evidence strongly indicates that by the third year in school (well before they have spent even 1000 days in the education system), children’s future is sealed. The equity and growth implications of teaching only to the “top of the class” are frightening; they are camouflaged by the outward signs and symbols of universal schooling. If “learning for all” is not given top most priority, if clear and achievable goals are not set, if teachers and parents are not supported in their efforts to help children learn, we will lose all the potential benefits of bringing every child to school. For a bright and hopeful future, whether as individuals, as families or even as a country, we must aim for “every child in school and learning well.”
To access the full report, please see ASER Report 2016.
In 2013, ASER surveyed the progress of 6,00,000 children in more than 16,000 villages in 550 rural districts of India. The participation included over 30,000 volunteers and 500 organizations, educational institutions, and DIETs.
ASER has demonstrated that it is possible to use simple, reliable, and scientific methods of sampling and assessment on a large scale for high impact at low cost. It has also been an excellent example of how to build local participation at national level and has enabled ordinary citizens to understand the current status of elementary education. However, it is most significant for defining a qualitative educational agenda and is widely used in government and policy circles nationally and internationally.
Understanding the problem is the first step to finding the solution. Help us continue this significant programme.
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.
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Also, further details on the ASER initiative are at Research & Assessment.
In 2007, private school children were performing better than their government school counterparts in both language and math. The ASER said that 4.2 percent of children in the 6-14 age-group were not going to school in rural India, down from 6.6 percent in 2006. However, it also estimated that the children’s attendance in schools had 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 was that the proportion of government school children who go to paid tuition classes was 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 provided the first-ever estimate on English reading ability amongst rural India’s children. In Std 5, 28 percent of the children could read simple sentences and 31 percent could read words. Of these children, two-thirds could also tell the meaning of what they have read. In Kerala, over 59 percent of the children could read simple sentences in English. From the Hindi-speaking belt, Himachal Pradesh matched Kerala in English reading ability while Haryana and Bihar also performed relatively well with 47.9 percent and 41.2 percent of 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 reported that 75 to 80 percent of the 3-4 year olds were accessing anganwadi (pre-school). However, at the same time, the proportion of 5 year olds who entered formal school was 62 percent in 2007, up by 15 percentage points over the previous year. Experts felt that these children were too young to be in school and needed a proper kindergarten to ease them into formal education.