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ASER Report 2018

  • 16 Jan 2019
  • 8 min read

The NGO Pratham has released its 13th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)- 2018.

  • ASER 2018 is a nation-wide household survey that provides a snapshot of children’s schooling and learning for a representative sample of children across rural India.
  • Children in the age group 3 to 16 are surveyed to find out their enrollment status in school or pre-school. Children in the age group 5 to 16 are assessed one-on-one to understand their basic reading and arithmetic abilities.
  • ASER continues to be the only national source of information about children’s foundational skills across the country.


  • Schooling Levels: Enrollment and Attendance
    • Overall enrollment (age 6-14): The enrollment of children for the age group 6 to 14 has been above 95%, since 2017. Children not enrolled in school has fallen below 3% at 2.8% in 2018.
    • Girls out of school: In 2018, the overall proportion of girls in the 11 to 14 age group out of school has fallen to 4.1% from 10.3% in 2006. Further, in 2008, more than 20% of girls in the 15 to 16 age group were not enrolled in school. In 2018, this figure has decreased to 13.5%.
    • Private school enrollment: In 2016, proportion of children (age 6-14) enrolled in private school stood at 30.6% and is almost unchanged at 30.9% in 2018.
  • Learning levels: Foundational skills in reading and arithmetic
    • Reading 
      • Std III- The percentage of all children in Std III who can read at Std II level has increased from 21.6% in 2013 to 27.2% in 2018.
      • Std V- In 2018, 50.3% of Children enrolled in Std V can read at least a Std II level text. This figure has inched up from 47.9% in 2016
      • Std VIII- ASER 2018 data indicates that of all children enrolled in Std VIII in India, about 73% can read at least a Std II level text. This number is unchanged from 2016.
    • Arithmetic
      • Std III- The all India figure for children in Std III who are able to do at least subtraction has not changed much, from 27.6% in 2016 to 28.1% in 2018. For government school children, this figure was 20.3% in 2016 and 20.9% in 2018.
      • Std V- The proportion of children in Std V across India who are able to do division has increased slightly, from 26% in 2016 to 27.8% in 2018.
      • Std VIII- The overall performance of Std VIII in basic arithmetic has not changed much over time. Currently about 44% of all children in Std VIII can solve a 3-digit by 1-digit numerical division problem correctly.
  • Learning levels: ‘Beyond Basics’- In ASER 2018, children in the age group 14 to 16 were given a few tasks which required calculations to be done in everyday contexts. Children were asked to calculate time, compute how many tablets would be required to purify water (application of unitary method), figure out where to buy books given two different price lists (financial decision making), and compute a discount.
    • Of the 14-16 year olds who could solve a numerical division problem, a little under half could compute the time question correctly, 52% could apply the unitary method to calculate how many tablets were needed to purify a given volume of water, about 37% were able to take the correct decision regarding the purchase of books, and less than 30% could compute the discount correctly.
    • In all cases, fewer girls could solve questions correctly as compared to boys.
  • Teacher and Student Attendance- At the all India level, no major change is seen in students' and teachers' attendance. Average teacher attendance has hovered at around 85% and average student attendance at around 72% for the past several years in both primary and upper primary schools.
    • Nationally, substantial improvements are visible in 2018 in the availability of many school facilities mandated by Right To Education (RTE).
    • The fraction of schools with usable girls' toilets doubled from 2010, reaching 66.4% in 2018.
    • The proportion of schools with books other than textbooks available increased from 62.6% to 74.2% over the same period (i.e. from 2010 to 2018)

The Right To Education (RTE) Act

  • The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years as a Fundamental Right.
  • Subsequently, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 was enacted as envisaged under Article 21-A It came into effect on 1 April 2010.
  • There is no separate budget for RTE, rather it is subsumed in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) through which it is effected.
  • Section 3(1) of the RTE Act provides that every child of the age group of 6-14 years shall have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school till completion of Elementary Education.
  • The RTE Act provides for constitutionally created independent bodies like the National and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights.
  • Recently, the Rajya Sabha has passed the Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which seeks to amend the Right to Education Act, 2009 to abolish the no-detention policy in schools.
  • Physical Education and Sports Facilities- This year, ASER introduced a series of questions on the availability of sports infrastructure in schools.
    • In 2018, about 8 out of 10 schools had a playground available for students, either within the school premises or close by.
    • Physical education teachers are scarce in schools across rural India. Only 5.8% of all primary schools and 30.8% of upper primary schools had a physical education teacher available. In majority of schools, another teacher was tasked with supervising physical education activities as well.
    • Sports equipment of some kind was observed in 55.8% of primary schools and 71.5% of upper primary schools.

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

  • ASER 2018 included almost all rural districts in India and generated district, state, and national estimates of foundational reading and arithmetic abilities of children in the age group 5 to 16 years. It surveyed children in the age group of 3 to 16 years.
  • ASER surveys use Census 2011 as the sampling frame.
  • ASER 2016 followed the ‘basic’ model, sampling children age 3 to 16 for survey and testing reading, arithmetic, and English for children age 5 to 16.
  • In 2017, ASER conducted the first alternate-year design known as ASER ‘Beyond Basics’, focusing on youth in the 14 to 18 age group in 28 districts across India.
  • ASER 2017 inquired about what youth are currently doing and aspiring to, in addition to assessing their foundational skills and their ability to apply these to everyday tasks.
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