Ahead of the nation-wide release of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2016, a teacher from Solapur has questioned the methods employed to conduct the survey, which is considered to be one of the most telling reports on the quality of education in the country.
While ASER is back after a gap of one year and will be released on Wednesday, Ranjitsinh Disale, a teacher from a Zilla Parishad school, has come out with a 55-page review of the national survey alleging flaws in its methodology and raising questions on its findings.
Disale said the survey uses tools designed according to the ‘early grade reading assessment (EGRA)’ but it bears only a little relevance to the course content taught in schools. According to the comparisons drawn up in the review, Class 1 assessment had only 24.82% relevance to the syllabus and Class 2 was 55.71%.
Another inconsistency mentioned in the report is that a minimum of 500 schools must be part of the sample from each division of Maharashtra while conducting a comparative survey based on the EGRA parameters, states the review. According to this, a total of 4, 500 schools from nine divisions of Maharashtra must be surveyed. But the ASER 2014 data was based on 33 government schools and 33 households out of 33 districts.
The teacher’s other allegations include that the survey is conducted by unknown people so children are not comfortable or relaxed during the assessment and in identifying numbers, the review claims that the number three, for instance, is written in Devnagri script even though textbooks write it as ‘3’, and this confuses students.
When contacted, Madhav Chavan, co-founder and chief executive officer of Pratham, the NGO that conducts the survey, said he knew about the review but didn’t want to comment on it.
Meanwhile, Pratham officials said Disale has been approaching them with this review for the last five years. “We have looked at the report and we are in talks with him,” said an official.
The ASER report had previously drawn flak from the education department. After the 2014 report, the organisation didn’t release a national report in 2015. Only Maharashtra and Punjab reports were published.