The survey for the Annual Status of Education Report for rural India in 2017 was carried out in 28 districts spread across 24 states.(HT file photo)
The survey for the Annual Status of Education Report for rural India in 2017 was carried out in 28 districts spread across 24 states.(HT file photo)

ASER survey shows 36% of kids aged 14-18 don’t know India’s capital, 21% can’t name their state

The survey for the Annual Status of Education Report for rural India in 2017 also says that 21% students could not answer the state they live in, 14% could not identify India’s map.
By Neelam Pandey | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 17, 2018 07:21 AM IST

One-fourth of the country’s youngsters in the 14-18 age group cannot read their own language fluently, while 57% of them struggle to solve a simple sum of division, said a survey report on rural education released on Tuesday.

Shown a map of India, 14% couldn’t identify it, 36% couldn’t name the country’s capital and 21% could not answer the state they live in, findings that expose the pathetic state of education in rural India.

The survey for the Annual Status of Education Report for rural India in 2017 was carried out in 28 districts spread across 24 states.

“This scenario is pretty staggering and makes you think what’s going on and what should be done?” chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian said, referring to the survey’s finding that about 40% youth having no role-models for the profession they aspire to join.

“The learning outcomes of boys and girls are similar but in the age group of 14-18, the wedge is opening up between boys and girls. It’s important to address it ,” he added.

“This scenario is pretty staggering and makes you think what’s going on and what should be done?” -- chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian

There is hardly any difference between boys’ and girls’ enrolment at age 14 but at age 18, at least 32% females are not enrolled as compared to 28% males.

In terms of daily tasks, some simple activities were picked up for the survey, such as counting money, knowing weights and telling time.

How much money is this? About one-fourth of the youth couldn’t count correctly. At least 44% couldn’t add weights correctly in kilograms. Checking the time is a common daily activity but over 40% couldn’t tell the hour and minutes, according to the report.

Since 2006, the ASER has reported on the children’s schooling status and their ability to do basic reading and arithmetic tasks; it focused on 5-16 age group. In 2017, ASER focused on an older age group, youth who are 14 to 18 years old and have moved just beyond the elementary school age.

Beyond basics

About 2000 volunteers from 35 partner institutions, visited more than 25,000 households in 1641 villages, surveying more than 30,000 youth of the said age group.

The report said 86% of the youth in the 14-18 age group are still within the formal education system, either in school or in college. More than half of all youth in this age group are enrolled in class 10 or below. Another 25% are either in class 11 or 12, and 6% are enrolled in undergraduate and other degree courses. Only 14% are not currently enrolled in any form of formal education.

“The report has made an attempt to look ‘beyond basics’ and explore a wider set of domains beyond foundational reading and arithmetic. Four domains were considered – activity, ability, awareness and aspirations,” said a statement issued by the organisation.

Some key findings

*53% of all 14 year-olds in the sample can read English sentences. For 18 year-old youth, this figure is closer to 60%. Of those who can read English sentences, 79% can say the meaning of the sentence.

*Even among youth in this age group who have completed eight years of schooling, a significant proportion still lack foundational skills like reading and math.

*Mobile phone usage is widespread in the 14-18 age group. 73% of the young people had used a mobile phone within the last week

*Significant gender differences are visible. While only 12% of males had never used a mobile phone, this number for females is much higher at 22%.

*Mobile usage rises significantly with age. Among 14 year-olds, 64% had used a mobile phone in the last week. That figure for 18 year-olds is 82%.

*But for these young people, the use of internet and computers was much lower. 28% had used the internet and 26% had used computers in the last week, while 59% had never used a computer and 64% had never used internet

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