Story of Recovery – ASER Survey 2022 | 19th January 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about key findings of the first ASER Survey (ASER 2022) released after the pandemic.


  • GS2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources;
  • Essay;
  • Prelims


  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), which sheds light on learning outcomes in schools released after a gap of 4 years.
  • The Covid pandemic had caused schools to shut down in March 2020, and India had one of the longest school closures in the world.
  • In 2021 NGO Pratham conducted representative surveys in three states in 2021 — Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.
  • Unlike 2021, ASER 2022 is a full nationwide survey and its findings are important for our education system.

What is an ASER Survey?

  • It is a nationwide survey of rural education and learning outcomes in terms of reading and arithmetic skills that has been conducted by the NGO Pratham.
  • It uses Census 2011 as the sampling frame and continues to be an important national source of information about children’s foundational skills across the country.
  • It sheds light on learning outcomes in schools. It is a key national survey that captures the state of foundational literacy and numeracy in the country.


  • Fall in both reading and maths:
    • For the country as a whole, learning levels had been rising slowly between 2014 and 2018, after being stagnant for several years.
    • For example, at the all-India level, the proportion of children in Class III who could read a Class II level text (a proxy for grade-level reading) had risen from 23.6 per cent in 2014 to 27.2 per cent in 2018.
    • ASER 2022 shows a big drop in this proportion to 20.5 per cent.
    • This 7 percentage point fall is huge, given how slowly the all-India numbers move and confirms fears of large learning losses caused by the pandemic.
    • In maths also, learning levels had risen slowly between 2014 and 2018. The 2022 estimates show a drop here as well although much smaller than in the case of reading.
  • NEP and FLN:
    • Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN):

      • FLN is broadly conceptualised as a child’s ability to read basic texts and solve basic maths problems (such as addition and subtraction).
      • Foundational Literacy and Numeracy is one of the major themes of the NEP 2020.
      • In 2021, the NIPUN-Bharat programme was launched with a vision to ensure universal literacy and numeracy for Class 3 children by 2026-27.
    • Another big development during 2020-21 was the introduction of the new National Education Policy (NEP) in 2020.
    • For the first time, there was a big focus on the early years and the importance of foundational competencies.
    • Once schools reopened, states moved quickly and almost all states have made a major push in the area of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) under the NIPUN Bharat mission (National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy).
    • This push is reflected in the ASER 2022 data.
    • At the all-India level, 81 per cent schools responded that they had received such a directive and 83 per cent said that at least one teacher in the school had been trained on FLN.

Way Forward:

  • While there have been learning losses, there has also been recovery once the schools reopened. Accounting for all the interim measurements, ASER 2022 estimates tell a story of recovery rather than one of loss.

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