School enrolment fell during pandemic: Annual Status of Education Report

What is the News?

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey 2021 has been released.

What is an 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.

About 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?
Source: Hindustan Times

Increase in Enrollment 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.

Source: This post is based on the following articles: 

  • School enrollment fell during pandemic: Annual Status of Education Report published in The Hindu on 17th November 2021.
  • Explained: Covid’s impact on learning published in The Indian Express on 17th November 2021.
  • Enrolment shifts from private to govt schools in rural India: ASER 2021” published in Business Standard on 17th November 2021.
  • “Lessons in the pandemic” published in the Business Standard on 17th November 2021.
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