Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 has plenty of good news from the rural India that should make you proud. Most of the teenagers in the rural sect of India attend school and even attend college. Even, many of those who do go to school or colleges, use mobile phones. However, there is a big flaw that the report states. The education reports which was carried out by NGO Pratham released in New Delhi on Tuesday, finds that 86 per cent of teens in the 14-18 age group are still in the formal education system, that is, school or college. Even 73 per cent students had used a mobile phone within the last week, but the latest catch in the report is that more than half of them, that is 57 per cent, struggle to do Class 2-level division.
The previous surveys were conducted in the 5-to-16 age group, however, this time ASER 2017 focused on 14- to 18-year-olds. The study looks to answer as the young teens enter the crucial phase of their lives. The study looks at skills beyond foundational reading and arithmetic and focusing on four: activity (what they are doing), ability (level of basic skills), awareness (their access to media, traditional and new) and aspirations.
The study finds that while the teens are high on aspiration, that is about 60 per cent wanted to study beyond Class 12, they are short on vital, everyday skills that are needed to help them get to where they aspire. A pointer to this aspiration is how most children in the age group continue to stay within the formal education system even though the Right to Education umbrella folds up at age 14: 86 per cent of youth were in school or college. More than half (54 per cent) of them were in Class 10 or below and only 14 not enrolled anywhere.
But the study found that school education currently isn’t equipping youngsters for life outside. About 25 per cent of those in this age group couldn’t read basic text fluently and 57 per cent struggled when asked to divide a 3-digit number by a single digit.
This year, the survey picked simple tasks such as counting money, knowing weights and telling time. One of the tasks was to look at a picture of a T-shirt on sale with a 10 per cent discount and figure out how much to pay. Only 38 per cent of them got it right. When asked to calculate the length of an object when placed at the ‘0’ mark in the ruler, about 86 per cent of youth did so correctly but when placed elsewhere on the ruler, only 40 per cent got the right answer. Also, only 64 per cent could carry out simple financial tasks such as managing a given budget.
The survey also finds a glaring gender divide with boys outperforming girls in almost every task assigned to them, such as counting money and adding weights, and on many other parameters such as access to digital media. While there is hardly any difference between enrollment levels of boys and girls at age 14 (when RTE is in effect), by age 18, when the State doesn’t enforce compulsory education, 32 per cent girls are not enrolled as compared to 28 per cent boys. Which shows RTE played its part in helping girls stay in school.
For ASER 2017, about 2,000 volunteers visited more than 25,000 households in 1,641 villages, surveying more than 30,000 14- to 18-year-olds in 28 districts of the country.