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ASER Report :: Drop-out Rate Declines, Access To Schooling Increases

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Drop-out Rate Declines, Access To Schooling Increases
The number of girls and boys dropping out of their schools education has gone down, while more and more young people are accessing formal and informal schooling, says the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) for the year 2007. The third definitive survey of status of school education across rural India, conducted by non-governmental organisation Pratham, indicates major progress over last two years in enrollment and availability of schools, teachers, toilets and water in most states. The findings of the survey also show a jump in mid-day meals, state-run free lunches to retain students in the schools. Another significant finding of the survey is increase in aanganwadi Integrated Child Development Scheme  coverage, especially in the North India.
Drop-outs drop
Overall proportions of out of schoolchildren have dropped in the year 2007, since last year. This decline is visible in all age categories for both boys and girls.For boys and girls in seven to 10 year old age group, the percentage of out of school children in 2007 stands at below 3% for rural India. For girls in the age group 11 to 14, the percentage of out of school children has dropped from above 10 to 7.4 %. For Rajasthan and Bihar, the percentage of out of school children in the 6 to 14 age group was above 10% in 2006. This number has decreased to 6.5% in both the states in 2007.  verall, enrolment in private schools has increased from 18.7% in 2006 to 19.3% in 2007. Therise in private school enrolment is noticeable in the older age group of 11 to 14 years. Private schools include government aided, unaided, recognised and unrecognised schools.
More young children accessing education

The survey also reported a substantial increase in the number of children attending pre-schools (anganwadi or balwadi). In 2006, 61.2% of kids threeyears of age were attending pre-schools as compared to 75.3% in 2007. For four year olds, there is an  ncrease from 71.9 to 81.8%.  Major increase in the proportion of children in pre-schools  anganwadi or balwadi) has been reported in states  like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West   engal, Orissa, Chhattisgarh  and Kerala with anganwadi-balwadi enrollment showing a rise of  ore than 10 percentage points between 2006 and 2007. Himachal Pradesh shows highest increase of 30 percentage points.
Learning levels improve
Overall reading levels showed improvement over 2006. Across the country, the proportion of children  in first standard,  who could not even recognise alphabets has dropped from  38.4 in 2006 to 31.9% in 2007. The proportion of children in standard one and two, who can recognise letters,  read words or  ore has gone up nationally from 73.3% in 2006 to 78.3%  in 2007. Many states show   mprovement in reading levels for children in Standard 1  and 2 and there is considerable   ariation  across states. In particular, Rajasthan,   Arunachal, Manipur, Assam show an    mprovement of more than 10  percentage points. Increases are also visible in Jammu and   ashmir,   Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat   and Karnataka. National figures in 2007 show 58.3%  children in Standard 5 can read   tandard
Problem solving

All children were orally asked two problems. Both problems were about money and involved children subtracting numbers from INR 50. Children could give the answer orally or in written form.A small proportion of 6-8 year-olds could correctly answer the problems. In this    ge group, 18% of school going children could answer questions as compared to 6% of  on-school going children of the same age group. The ability to solve these problems is higher   ith older children: 50% of 9-10 year old children can solve both problems and almost 74%  hildren in the 11-14 age group can do the same.  For older children (aged 11-14), of those who  an correctly solve written  numerical subtraction problems, about 66% can solve the word  problems. Of children who can solve written division  problems, close to 94% can solve the word problems.
Comprehension improves 

ASER 2007 has explored the relationship between a  hild’s ability  to read and comprehend text by asking children oral questions based on texts   f different levels.  The ability to comprehend is closely linked with the ability to read. What  is  evealing is that when children are given a text that is more advanced than they are  omfortable reading, a section  of children is still able to tackle the text and understand it. For  xample, among all 6-10 year olds, 23% are comfortably  able to read words but not as yet able to read sentences fluently. Of these halting readers, about 11% can answer questions based on   he Std 1 level text and about 6% on Std 2 level text. Note  that the Standard 1 and 2 level texts are higher than what the child can read comfortably.  Among the children reading a Std 1 level, 66% of children in the 6-10 age group can answer questions from a Std  1 level text.  Even though these children cannot comfortably read a Std 2 level  text, 23% can answer  uestions based on  a Std 2 level text. Similar patterns are visible among the older children   11-14 year) as well. Not only can a majority of children answer questions based on the level of   extthat they are comfortably reading but   significant percentage try to read a higher   evel of text and understand it.
School infrastructure gets better
The number of schools with   resh ater supply has risen from 67 to 72%  for primary schools and 73 to 77% in  middle  chools. Similar improvements  are also seen in terms of toilets. However, there are still a little   ver 25% schools that either do not have water or  if they do have water it is not usable. The corresponding figure for toilets is 40%. In about 92.6% of the schools  visited on a random  ay in October/  November 2007, midday meal was seen being prepared or served.  This figure   s much higher than the comparable figure in 2005, which stood  at 71.1%. Well over  75% of all teachers  had received TLM grants for 2006 and over half had received them for   007.  Similarly, for school maintenance grants, over 80% of schools had received their grants   n 2006 and over 60% in 2007. It is likely that the remainder of grants may be sent to   chools and teachers by the end of the 2007-08 financial year. In India, due to low  nrollments in small habitations, children in about half  of all classes in visited schools, duringthe ASER survey, sat with students belonging to another standard. This number  anges   rom close to 70% in states like Bihar and Jharkhand to as low as 3% in Kerala. The   indings from ASER 2007 shows that rural India’s schools are well on course towards the goal of   niversalising elementary education. It also highlights non-formal schooling providing   ital support for the first generationof rural learners. The decline in drop-out rates and increase in   eacher attendance are a promising signs of emerging quality  education in rural schools

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