Published: Wed, January 17, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

We must focus on the three 'R's — ASER survey

We must focus on the three 'R's — ASER survey

This year's Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2017 was published on Tuesday and explores one key question: how well are we preparing our youth to build a better future for themselves and for the country? This year, ASER focused on an older age group, teenagers aged between 14 and 18 years. The report classified the parameters of assessment under four categories - activity, ability, awareness and aspirations. But the report also says that while the ability of students to understand simple English improved with age, the ability to understand math still remained poor. Bijnor district stood second-last (at 27, out of 28 districts surveyed) in terms of enrolment - 64.4%.

While about 25% of this age group still can not read "basic text" fluently in their own language, more than half struggle with division (3 digit by 1 digit) problems, states a first-ever survey on the status of education of India's rural youth by Pratham, a non government organisation (NGO). As for English sentences, 53 per cent can read them.

Still worse, when these youngsters were shown a map of India, 14 per cent were unable to identify it, while 36 per cent were unable to name the country's capital. And 76% can count money. 44% couldn't add weights correctly in kilograms.

The survey found that 55% of youth have their own bank accounts, while 40% have some point in time deposited or withdrawn money, and only 11.3% have used an ATM in Varanasi.

Despite the government's push towards the digital, 62% youth have never worked on a computer in Varanasi and 67.3% have never used the Internet. Gender disparity is also significant in this case. And, as against 35% boys who have never used the Internet, 81% girls have never done so.

While there is hardly any difference between boys and girls in enrollment in schools and colleges when they are 14, the gap steadily widens as they become older.

"While the learning results are same in the case of boys and girls, the gap is widening in the age group of 14-18. It's important to address it". However, there is a huge difference between youth who have completed more than eight years of and those who haven't, suggesting that the right to (RTE) Act has made a difference.

The report says that while 46% of the former can perform arithmetic division, only 29% of the latter can do the same. Similarly, while 63 per cent of the former can correctly read a small sentence, only 36 per cent of the latter can do it. ASER studies from 2006 to 2016 had focused only on the age group of 5 to 16-year-olds. It has been focusing on their ability to do basic reading and arithmetic tasks. Out of those who work, 79% work in agriculture.

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