Thursday, March 16, 2006

Annual Survey of Education report

India Together: The first Annual Survey of Education report - 31 January 2006: " Hundreds of NGOs, institutions, people's organisations, and individuals recently joined hands to conduct a survey, district by district, of the state of education in the country. Their findings have been summarised in the First Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER). Ashwin Mahesh reports. "

Some findings

* Nearly 1.4 crore children are out of school; this situation is especially worse in Bihar, Rajashtan and Jharkand, where 10% or more of school-age children are not enrolled.

*The gender gap in the percentage of children out of school, however, has dropped. In 2001, it was estimated that 2 out of 3 dropouts were girls, but this study finds that only a little more than half (52-55%) of the children out of school are gilrs.

*In three out of four schools visited by volunteers collecting data, the teachers were present, as they are expected to be. In several states, all the teachers assigned to surveyed schools were present. Unexpectedly, however, teacher absenteeism was high in Kerala, where 3 out of 10 schools visited did not have any teacher present.

* The really worrisome findings from ASER relate not to attendance and demographics, but to learning. The tests of reading ability were quite simple (a short paragraph at the grade 2 level), but even then 35% of children aged 7-14 could not pass this test, and 60% of the children could not read a simple story, also at grade 2 level. This situation was in fact worse in states like Tamilnadu and Gujarat, where the usual indicators (school availability, enrolment, teachers, etc.) are all good. Students in Bihar and Chhatisgarh fared better, despite really poor education infrastructure indicators for their states.

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