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Survey Finds: Close to 20% of Rural Children Had No Textbooks In Pandemic

An Annual State of Education Report (ASER) survey finds more than 20% of rural school children without textbooks during the ongoing period of the pandemic. Statistically, we see less than 35% of children had textbooks in Andhra Pradesh and only 60% in Rajasthan. While states like West Bengal, Nagaland and Assam had more than 98% textbooks.

The survey, conducted by the NGO Pratham for the last 15 years, is done to study and provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India. In September of 2020, the survey was conducted via phone calls, reaching 52,227 rural households with school-age children in 30 States and Union Territories.

The survey revealed that 5.3% of rural children aged between 6-10 years had not enrolled in school this year, with families seemingly waiting for the opening of physical schools. A drop in the enrolment rates in private schools was also seen, with a slight move towards government schools. About one in three rural children had done no learning activity at all in the week the survey was conducted.

Despite 62% of rural households with school-going children having smartphones, two-thirds of rural children with access to a smartphone did not receive any learning materials or activities. We see that with less than 8% getting any materials from their schools in Bihar and 20% in West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. However, we see 80% of rural children in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat receiving such materials.

“When schools re-open, it will be important to continue to monitor who goes back to school, and very important to understand whether there is learning loss as compared to previous years,” said ASER.