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Current Affairs 2023
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2022 reveals a widening gap in foundational skills in reading and arithmetic among Indian students, despite a sharp rise in government school enrollment. The report highlights the impact of school closures on children's learning and the need for education systems to adapt and support children's return to school.
Jan 19, 2023
3 min read
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2022, released by NGO Pratham, has brought to light a worrying trend in the Indian education system - the widening of the learning gap for foundational skills in reading and arithmetic. The report, which covers 6.9 lakh children in the age group of 3 to 16 years, found that despite a sharp rise in enrolment in government schools for the first time in 16 years, basic literacy levels of children have taken a big hit, with their reading ability as compared to numeracy skills worsening much more sharply and dropping to pre-2012 levels.
The national-level study shows that despite school closures during the pandemic, the overall enrolment figures, which have been above 95% for the past 15 years for the 6 to 14 years age group, increased from 97.2% in 2018 to 98.4% in 2022. However, the percentage of children in Class 3 in government or private schools who were able to read at the level of Class 2 dropped from 27.3% in 2018 to 20.5% in 2022. This decline is visible in every state, and for children in both government and private schools.
States showing a decline of more than 10 percentage points from 2018 levels include those that had higher reading levels in 2018, such as Kerala (from 52.1% in 2018 to 38.7% in 2022), Himachal Pradesh (from 47.7% to 28.4%), and Haryana (from 46.4% to 31.5%). Large drops are also visible in Andhra Pradesh (from 22.6% to 10.3%) and Telangana (from 18.1% to 5.2%).
The report also highlights the impact of school closures in 2020 and 2021 on children's learning and the need for education systems to adapt and support children's learning as they return to school. The prolonged closures have had a severe impact on children's learning and development, with many children falling behind in their studies. The report also shows that the gap between children who have access to online learning and those who do not has grown significantly, with many children in rural areas and from low-income families facing significant barriers to accessing online education.
The ASER report is a wake-up call for the Indian education system to address the widening learning gap and work towards providing equal opportunities for all children to access quality education. It is crucial that the government and education stakeholders work together to address the issues highlighted in the report and ensure that children do not fall behind in their studies. This includes providing support for children who have fallen behind, investing in technology and infrastructure to support remote learning, and addressing the socio-economic barriers that prevent children from accessing education. Only by working together can we ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential and succeed in life.
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