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More children are choosing government schools over private schools in rural areas, according to the 17th nationwide Annual Status of Education (ASER) report. It revealed that enrolment of kids in government schools peaked between 2018 and 2022 in such areas.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of children taking admission from private schools to government schools in almost all the states. The figures rose from 65.6% in 2018 to 72.9% in 2022, the data shows. 

According to the ASER 2022 data, around 98.4% children in the age group of 6 to 14 years are currently enrolled in some kind of proper education. 

On the other hand, the report revealed that the basic reading ability of school students across all classes has dropped to pre-2012 levels while basic maths skills have declined to 2018 levels. 

It showed that the drops are visible in government as well as private schools in most states and for both boys and girls.

“The percentage of children in class 3 in government or private schools who can read at class 2 level dropped from 27.3 per cent in 2018 to 20.5 per cent in 2022. This decline is visible in every state and for children in both government and private schools," the report stated. 

States showing a decline of more than 10 percentage points from 2018 levels include those that had higher reading levels in 2018, such as Kerala (from 52.1 per cent in 2018 to 38.7 per cent in 2022), Himachal Pradesh (from 47.7 per cent to 28.4 per cent), and Haryana (from 46.4 per cent to 31.5 per cent).

The survey, conducted by NGO Pratham, covered around seven lakh children across 616 districts in the country. Basically, the NGO works on addressing the gaps in India's education system. 

The first ASER survey was conducted in 2005 and repeated for 10 years. ASER 2022 is the first field-based "basic" nationwide ASER after a gap of four years. It comes at a time when children are back in school after an extended gap in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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