Education calls for a long-haul effort to ensure no child gets left behind
- We are falling short on a key objective, as the latest ASER findings show, even though tech enablers could boost learning in rural India.
The release of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) a fortnight ago in New Delhi seemed to harken an early arrival of spring. It took place in a conference hall by the city’s magnificent Lodhi Gardens. The staff of Pratham, the educational NGO behind the extensive survey (of the 14-18 age group this year), were mostly in radiantly colourful clothing. Pratham’s film of teenagers across the country, interviewed presumably during its survey across one or two districts in every state, was similarly upbeat. The montages of rural India were idyllic. One charismatic teenager from Bengal spoke of her desire to pursue higher studies to become independent, but underlined that she was in a race against time because her family would soon pressure her to get married. An incredibly studious teenager in Haryana, between his duties tending to the family buffalo, was articulate about how much he needed to study and how he used lessons on YouTube as free tuition. He planned to prepare for the civil service exams.The film also included an articulate youngster in rural Jharkhand talking about how he watched soap operas about lawyers and dreamt of becoming one himself.