In January, I was honored to be present as the Pratham family celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). I learned that ASER means impact in Hindi. Having followed its progress closely over the years, I can only confirm that ASER is fulfilling the vision and promise of its name.
We are now 10 years into ASER, and real sense of momentum is building within me. I want to thank all the partner organisations and supporters in Bihar who have helped to make ASER a reality. Stories can inspire action and there are two such stories I want to share with all of you. One story made me very happy and hopeful while the other made me feel sad but, at the same time, taught me to accept some realities of working in the social sector.
For the last 10 years, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is being released in mid-January. The timing of the release of the report is important; it becomes public before the budget is finalised and before the annual work plans for elementary education for the next school year are completed.
Experience has shown that simply being in school does not automatically translate into learning for students. As we enter this new phase of global goal setting for education, UNESCO, through its Institute for Statistics, has initiated a very timely online consultation about indicators that might be used to monitor learning around the world.
The 10th edition of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) by Pratham, released last week, shows that over the last decade, basic learning levels for children in elementary school in India have remained low. Only about half of Class V children in rural India can read a simple Class II level text, and a similar proportion can do a two-digit subtraction problem with borrowing.
Think of the map of India. Think of how it normally looks – dots for towns, bigger circles for big cities, dotted lines demarcating districts and solid lines outlining states. From about the middle of November if you looked closely at the map of India and then closed your eyes for a few seconds you would be able to see an amazing movement: people moving from place to place, jumping across the dotted lines of districts, solid lines of states,
The first ASER National Workshop was held in Bhopal in October of 2005. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but here we are 10 years later for our 10th Workshop in Aurangabad. In 2005, I remember that Pratham teams from all over the country came. There were about 50 people and of course, our office was not large enough to house everyone.