News Excerpt
Recently the Annual State of Education Report (ASER) survey conducted in September.

Pre-Connect
ASER is a nationwide survey of rural education and learning outcomes in terms of reading and arithmetic skills that has been conducted by the NGO Pratham for the last 15 years. This year, the survey was conducted via phone calls, reaching 52,227 rural households with school age children in 30 States and Union Territories.
In 2018, ASER surveyors found that about 36% of rural households with school-going children had smartphones.
Key finding of the Survey
●    About 20% of rural children have no textbooks at home. In Andhra Pradesh, less than 35% of children had textbooks, and only 60% had textbooks in Rajasthan. More than 98% had textbooks in West Bengal, Nagaland and Assam.
●    About one in three rural children had done no learning activity at all. About two in three had no learning materials or activity given by their school that week, and only one in ten had access to live online classes.

Impact of Pandemic
    It found that 5.3% of rural children aged 6-10 years had not yet enrolled in school this year, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018.
    This seems to indicate that due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, families are waiting for the physical opening of schools to enrol their youngest children, with about 10% of six-year-olds not in school.
    Among 15-16-year-olds, however, enrolment levels are actually slightly higher than in 2018. Enrolment patterns also show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.
    However, two thirds of rural children nationwide reported that they had not received any learning materials or activities at all.
    In Bihar, less than 8% got such materials from their schools, along with 20% in West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
    On the other hand, more than 80% of rural children in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat received such input.
    Many children did learning activities on their own, with or without regular input. Of the 70% who did some activities, 11% had access to live online classes, and 21% had videos or recorded classes, with much higher levels in private schools.
    About 60% studied from their textbooks, and 20% watched classes broadcast on TV. In Andhra Pradesh, half of all children did no learning activity at all, while in Kerala, only 5% of children were left out.
    About 20% of children whose parents had less than five years of education got learning materials, compared to 46% among parents who had studied beyond Class IX themselves.
    Almost 40% in low education households got no materials and did no learning, compared to 17% of high education families.
    However, almost 40% of low education families persevered and did some learning activities even without receiving any learning materials at all.

Dropout Rate
    West Bengal occupies the top position in the decline of dropout rate among school students during 2018-2020
    The school dropout rate in the state declined from 3.3 per cent to 1.5 per cent while it went up from four per cent to 5.5 per cent at the national level.
    The dropout rate in some bigger states like Karnataka, Telangana and Rajasthan was 11.3 per cent, 14 per cent and 14.9 per cent respectively.

Conclusion
    When schools re-open, it will be important to continue to monitor who goes back to school, and very importantly to understand whether there is learning loss as compared to previous years.
    Noting that 80% of families provided learning support to children, whether from parents or elder siblings.Schools need to find ways to build on that home support going forward.

ASER Survey
    It is an annual survey that aims to provide reliable annual estimates of children’s schooling status and basic learning levels for each state and rural district in India.
    It is a household-based rather than school-based survey. This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools or anywhere else.