Annual Status of Education Report 2021

• NGO Pratham has released its Annual Status of Education Report 2021.

• The survey was conducted over 76,000 households with children aged six to 14.

• Due to the pandemic, ASER’s 16th annual report was based on a phone survey assessing enrolment in schools and tuition classes, and access to devices and learning resources, rather than the organisation’s usual face-to-face survey which assesses learning outcomes and children’s competencies in reading and arithmetic skills.

Highlights of the report:

• The percentage of rural children who were not enrolled in school doubled during the pandemic. In 2018, only 2.5% of children were not enrolled in school. In both the 2020 and 2021 surveys, that figure had jumped to 4.6%.

• Government school enrolment spiked significantly from 64.3% in 2018 to 70.3% in 2021. The shift to government school enrolment could be a result of financial distress, the closure of affordable private schools and the movement of migrants to rural areas.

• Although it is not clear if this is a permanent phenomenon or will be reversed post the pandemic, it is important to ensure that government schools and teachers are equipped and given the necessary resources for this surge in enrolment.

• The survey found that while 92% of children had textbooks for their grade, only a third in government schools had access to any other learning resources or support in the form of worksheets, phone messages or any other sort of learning activities in the week of the survey.

Digital access:

• Smartphone access was a challenge in the delivery of online education. Although availability almost doubled to 68%, only a quarter of children even in homes with smartphones were able to access it whenever needed.

• In smartphone owning households, 26% of children had no access to the device at all, while 47% had only occasional access. There were major differences in the experience of students from different States. For instance, 91% of students from Kerala and almost 80% from Himachal Pradesh had online education, but only 10% from Bihar and 13% from West Bengal.

• Going forward, there is a need for device libraries, so all children can have access to needed devices.

• During the pandemic, almost 40% of students took tuition classes, as many parents struggled to provide the learning support students were not receiving from closed schools.

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Mains Paper 2: Education

Prelims level: Annual Status of Education Report 2021

Mains level: Read the newsfeed

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