learning deficit

India’s learning deficit is worsening: ASER study

India’s learning problem just got worse. The legacy of learning deficit visible so far in elementary school children is now being reflected among young adults too. This has been revealed by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) study.

Since, around 10% of Indian population is in this age group, their productivity has a direct bearing on India’s competitiveness as an economy. At the same time, it also poses a political challenge to incumbent governments as they cannot be easily absorbed in the workforce—adding to the growing number of unemployed youth.

ASER STUDY FINDINGS

–Nearly one out of two (47%) 14-year olds could not read a simple sentence of English.

–In the 14-18 years age group, over one in two students could not do a simple division. “Only 43% are able to do such problems correctly,” the ASER 2017 conducted by education non-profit Pratham revealed.

–Similarly, nearly one out of two (47%) 14-year olds could not read a simple sentence of English; the proportion was two out of five for 18-year olds. It is not just English, 25% of the youth could not read basic text fluently even when it was in their own languages.

LEARNING DEFICIT – THE REPORT

The findings are disappointing and pointing to a larger problem, said Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser to the Union finance ministry, while unveiling the report. According to him political parties needed to make education an electoral issue to improve learning outcomes. This year ASER surveyed students in the age group of 14-18 years, unlike the last 12 years when it focused on students in elementary schools. The survey, though, has a smaller sample size this year.

The ASER report also shows that enrolment gap between males and females in the formal education system increases with age. There is hardly any difference between boys and girls enrolment at age 14. But by the time they turn 18, the drop out rate is 32% for females and 28% for males.

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