The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2023, published by the Pratham Foundation, reveals concerning educational challenges faced by rural Indian students in the 14-18 age group. The report, titled ‘Beyond Basics,’ conducted surveys in 28 districts across 26 states, covering 34,745 youths.

Key findings indicate that 42% of rural children aged 14-18 struggle to read simple sentences in English, and over half of them face difficulties with basic division problems. Additionally, approximately 25% cannot fluently read a class 2 level text in their regional language, and only 43.3% can correctly solve 3-digit by 1-digit division problems.

The report emphasizes the need for catch-up efforts in foundational literacy and numeracy, affecting about a quarter of the youth in the 14-18 age group. While the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recognizes the importance of ‘catch-up’ for those lagging behind academically, ASER suggests implementing programs to support students from Std VIII and higher grades.

Among other insights, ASER highlights gender-based variations in performance, with females outperforming males in reading regional language texts, while males exhibit better proficiency in arithmetic and English reading. The report also delves into everyday tasks, such as calculating sleep hours and measuring objects, indicating varying levels of proficiency among surveyed youths.

ASER serves as a crucial citizen-led survey providing insights into the status of children’s schooling and learning in rural India. The 2023 survey delves into multiple domains, including youth activities, digital awareness and skills, smartphone access and usage, and the ability to perform tasks on smartphones.

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