According to an Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017, in Varanasi as many as 25 pct of youths aged between 14-18 cannot tell time correctly and a similar percentage of youth cannot identify India’s capital either on a map either. Tellingly, the report shows that 82.4 per cent of youth aged 14 have enrolled in schools in Varanasi while even in a district like Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam as many as 86.2% have enrolled – in Haryana’s Sonipat enrolment percentage is 83.6%, and in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun it is 84.4%. Surprisingly, the survey shows that 74 per cent of the youth in the age group of 14 to 18 used mobile phones in the past week but only 40 per cent could solve simple divisions. The Annual Status of Education Report was carried out on youth between the age group of 14 to 18 who have just moved beyond the age of elementary school age.
The survey was carried out in a total of 28 districts of 24 states across India. About 2000 volunteers visited more than 25,000 households in 1641 villages, surveying more than 30,000 14 to 18 year olds in all. The survey declared that Udaipur with 64.3 per cent ranked highest among the districts surveyed where a high percentage of youth worked. Varanasi, which is also PM Narendra Modi’s constituency, ranked sixth on the list with only 51.7 per cent of the youth working, excluding household work. Despite initiatives like ‘Digital India’ to improve penetration of internet and computers in India, Varanasi listed 62 per cent of the youth who have never worked on a computer and 67.3 per cent who have never used internet before. In terms of boys and girls ratio, Varanasi is listed as one of the backward districts with 81 per cent girls not knowing about internet while 35 per cent boys are unaware of how to use it.
In terms of monetary and banking awareness, Varanasi showed that 55 per cent of the youth have bank accounts while 40 per cent have at some point accessed it, while only a mere 11.3 per cent of the youth have used an ATM. Significantly, only 3 per cent have access to net banking. The survey also showed that only 47 per cent could read and understand three to four written instructions while the only relief was that 91 per cent of the youth could identify India’s map. In terms of enrolment, Varanasi stood 14th from the top amongst 28 districts, suggested the report.