It was in the year 2008 that I came to know about ASER. I was doing my Masters in Social Work when our teacher told us that we will be taking part in a survey, we didn’t know what kind of survey but all of us were excited that the organization will pay us for doing it (hahaha).
I am a simple guy with a simple lifestyle. I used to work in the pharmaceutical industry as a commercial officer where my role was handling dispatches to domestic and international customers. After working for almost 2 years there, I felt I was living a mechanical life but this continued only until I joined ASER.
6 months back when I should have put in all my concentration on writing my end semesters well, I wondered about what I would do next. With absolutely no plans whatsoever in my brain, I packed my bags and moved to Delhi.
The official ASER statistic – that a quarter of all children in Std VIII cannot read a Std II level ‘story’ – just does not convey the reality of the situation. I am in a village in Bodhgaya block in Bihar, watching 16-year-old Reshma try to read. She is focused on the task, trying very, very hard.
1 st pilot of testing tools (Day 1) in EPC school of village Nacurare, district Murrupla, Nampula, Mozambique
Today is the 1st day of the 1st pilot of the testing tools. We are going to a couple of schools in a neighbouring district of Murrupula.
What a difference a year makes. Last week in Nairobi, when we woke to find a grey blanket of fog wrapped around our conference centre, it was hard to believe that only a year ago, the founding directors of our citizen-led assessment movement set up the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) Network.
Faridah from UWEZO, Uganda and I are staying at Perola Recidencial. Faridah has arrived a day earlier, on July 6, and has started with the FACILIDADE team on creating the assessment tools. I arrive, after a marathon 20-hour journey, in the evening of July 7. Armando is present at the Nampula airport to receive me.
We listen to the same music.
We watch the same movies.
We eat the same food.
We farm the same land.
Many countries at the PAL Network attribute joining the Citizen-Led Assessment (CLA) movement having been inspired by India’s ASER Centre model.
It is not every day that people from 17 countries come together to learn, share and think about how to broaden the scope and reach of citizen-led efforts like the ASER survey. Since its inception, ASER has inspired parallel efforts in 12 countries.