Thanks to more than a decade of ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) findings, the main headlines from the surveys are widely known.1 Even those who are not education experts or researchers can tell you that after five years of schooling, only half of all children in India can read at Grade 2 level. And that the results for basic arithmetic are even more worrying.
If you are searching for a truly inspiring story for the holiday season, look no further than Nancy Birdsall's latest blog for the Center for Global Development (CGD).
The Indian NGO Pratham pioneered the use of simple, face-to-face, out-of-school assessments of basic learning at a massive scale—their typical annual report covers more than 500,000 children. The ASER reports have tracked the levels and trends in learning (tragically, there has actually been learning retrogression) of children aged 5 to 14 in rural India since 2004.
Leading academic and researcher, Dr. Rukmini Banerji, recently wrote a blog post, When Schooling Doesn’t Mean Learning, that was published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The post talks about ASER (Annual Status of Education Report), a citizen-led assessment that measures children’s learning levels, and how the assessment has challenged the idea that being in school guarantees an education.