Pratham's 16th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2021 was launched on Wednesday, 17 November. The report surveyed 75,253 children in the age group of 5-16 across 25 states and three Union territories.
The report analysed the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns on schooling. "With schools being closed since March 2020, understanding the effect of the pandemic on schools, families and children was crucial," the report said.
Among other things the report found that the enrollment of students has gone down in private schools and increased in government schools. It also found that more children across the country, other than Kerala, have taken up private tuition classes.
Lower Enrollment in Private Schools, Higher in Government Schools
The proportion of children not currently enrolled in school increased during the pandemic. It went up from 1.4% in 2018 to 4.6% in 2020 and stayed the same in 2021.
The report suggests an evident shift from private to government schools. Enrollment in private schools has decreased from 32.5% in 2018 to 24.4% in 2021. Even though this shift is seen among both boys and girls, "boys are still more likely to be enrolled in private schools than girls," the report found.
The national increase in government school enrollment is driven by large northern states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana and southern states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh.
More Students Are Taking Private Tuitions Across India
Uptake of paid private tuition classes has increased across all states except Kerala.
In 2018, less than 30% children took private tuition classes, but currently this statistic is at 40%. "The proportion of children with parents in the 'low' education category who are taking tuition increased by 12.6% points, as opposed to a 7.2% point increase among children with parents in the 'high' education category," found the report.
Learning support from parents or elder siblings in the family in the absence of schooling is crucial. This has also decreased. "Overall this proportion has dropped to two thirds of all children, mainly on account of less support from fathers," found the report.
A Quarter of All Enrolled Students Have No Access to Smartphones
"Smartphones became the predominant source of teaching-learning when schools shut down and moved to a remote model of teaching-learning last year, giving rise to concerns about the most marginalised being left behind," said the report.
However, the report also found that while smartphone ownership in India has almost doubled since 2018, it has not translated into access to children. Even as over two-thirds of all enrolled children have a smartphone at home, over a quarter of these have no access to it.
More children in private schools have a smartphone at home compared to children going to government schools.
Children with parents in the 'high' education category have more access to smartphones. However, "even among children whose parents are in the ‘low’ education category, over a quarter bought a smartphone for their studies since March 2020," found the report.