Friday, January 29, 2010

Rural schooling reality check - ASER report

The 2009 edition of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), brought out by Pratham, that covers private and government schools in the rural areas of 575 out of 583 districts in the country is out (full pdf here and abstract here).

As Wilima Wadhwa makes out in a Mint op-ed, the findings of the report indicates that despite private schools’ perceived superiority, they do not show much learning difference from government ones after controlling for characteristics other than the type of school (ie parental incomes etc). The report finds that two-thirds of the learning differential between government and private schools can be attributed to factors other than the type of school. Here are a few graphics from the report.

The percentage of children out of school, while small for both boys and girls in the 7-10 age group, continues to remain at about 7% for girls in the 11-14 age group.

About 30% of the children aged 3 do not attend pre-school and this share has been growing. Among those aged 4, 20% do not attend pre-school and there has been no improvement in this over the past four years

The share of children in private schools in rural areas remain relatively stable, albeit with small increases, over the last four years. However, at the all-India level, private school enrolment increased from 16.3% in 2005 to around 22.6% in 2008—a rise of around 40%, with most of the increases coming in the urban areas.

The share of private schools remain around 20% across all school levels - primary, upper-primary and high-school. The shares reach 25% for high schools.

The most dismal picture is in the abysmal learning levels. There have been only modest improvements in learning levels over last year across all classes.

Among other highlights

1. Andhra Pradesh recorded an increase in the percentage of 11-14 year old girls out of school from 6.6% in 2008 to 10.8% in 2009.
2. Interestingly, the numbers and percentage of students going to private tuition's are on the rise for students attending both private and government schools. Among government school children, the percentage going to tuition class increases steadily as children move into higher classes - from 17.1% in Std 1 to 30.8% in Std 8. Among children attending private schools, almost a quarter (23.3%) take private tuition from Std 1 onwards. In West Bengal, more than half of all Std 1 students and almost 90% of all Std 8 government school children take some kind of paid tuition.
3. School attendance figures vary widely across states, with less than 60% of enrolled children attending in states like Bihar, compared to southern states where average attendance is well above 90%.

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