Annual Status of Education Report: Key Findings

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019 was recently released with discouraging results.

What is the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)?

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is an annual report that tries to quantify the status of schooling and basic learning levels for children across Indian states and rural areas. Since 2015, the NGO Pratham has been publishing this report to throw a critical light on the standard of the Indian education system. In 2015, they took a year off to deliberate and consolidate the assessments made over the past decade. It was restarted again in 2016.

How has India fared in the 2019 report?

The reports so far are disheartening. Only 16% of students in Class 1 among the 26 surveyed rural districts can read prescribed level texts, while almost 40% can’t even recognize letters. Only 41% of the children were able to identify 2 digit numbers. Children in private schools fared considerably better than those in government schools.

What kind of studies were performed?

Each child was asked to do a variety of tasks for testing cognitive skills. This included sorting images by color and size, recognize patterns, and fit together a four-piece animal puzzle. They also had the children take simple literacy and numeracy tests. Card with faces showing different emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear were used to track social and emotional development.

Key Findings

The survey has reported that among the Class 1 children who were assessed, the ones who could correctly do either none or only one of the tasks that require cognitive skills, around 14% could read words, while only 19% could do single-digit addition. However, 52% of the children who could perform all three cognitive tasks could read words, as well as 63% could solve the single-digit addition problems. Private schools fared a lot better. In Class 1, 41.5% of those in private schools could read words compared to only 19% from government schools. 28% of those in government schools could do simple additions, which in the case of private schools jumped up to 47%. There is an intense gender gap with private schools where only 39% of girls aged 6-8 are enrolled compared to almost 48% of boys.

Way Forward

Global research shows that 90% of brain growth occurs by the age of 5, which makes a child’s journey to class 1 very important. There a couple of issues India can immediately look into. The infrastructure and teaching style in the majority of government schools across India is abysmal. This often leads to children not being able to realize their potential and drop out after being discouraged by continuous failures. The ASER study has found another interesting fact. More than 20% of the students in class 1 of government schools are younger than the recommended lower limit of 5 years. This points towards a systemic failure of the preschooling system in India. If we can concentrate on a better preschooling system for our children, they will be better equipped to cope with the struggles of schooling and excel.


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