This year’s report posits that the difference has become starker between government and private schools given how India gets it wrong on foundational learning.
Although India pulled out of the international assessment of education by PISA in 2009, ASER reports have time and again highlighted the poor quality of learning in the country. Getting enrollment to near 100% is a victory, but ASER reports, over the years, highlight that quality of education has fallen in government schools. The 2018 study, for instance, indicated that only 44% of students enrolled in Class V in government schools could read Standard II text as compared to 53% a decade ago. This year’s report posits that the difference has become starker between government and private schools given how India gets it wrong on foundational learning.
The 2019 ASER report focuses on early childhood education. It shows that Anganwadi centres have failed at their task of providing basic skills to students. Moreover, as with previous reports, private schools outperform government ones as far as development of skills are concerned. Only 33% of Class I students in govt schools could read letters and 39% could recognise single digit numbers at the age of five, whereas the ratio was 58% and 64%, respectively, for private schools. Mother’s education, the report highlights, makes a difference, at least in later years of schooling. The gap between learning outcomes of children with mothers who were educated upto Standard 12th or higher was 40 percentage points more than children of uneducated mothers. India needs a China-style approach if it is to improve learning outcomes.