Over ninety percent children in the age group of 4-8 are enrolled in some type of educational institution while the number of girls getting enrolled in government schools is higher than boys, according to the 14th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) launched on Tuesday. The ASER for 2019 is based on a survey conducted in 26 districts across 24 states in India, covering over 36,000 children in the age group of 4-8 years.
"More than 90 per cent of children in the 4-8 age group are enrolled in some type of educational institution. This proportion increases with age, from 91.3 pc of all 4-year-olds to 99.5 pc of all 8-year-olds in sampled districts," the report said.
However, children of the same age vary enormously in terms of where they are enrolled. "For example, at age 5, 70 per cent children are in anganwadis or pre-primary classes, but 21.6 per cent are already enrolled in class 1. At age 6, 32.8 pc children are in anganwadis or pre-primary classes, while 46.4 pc are in class 1, and 18.7 pc are in class 2 or higher," it said.
"Gender gaps are visible even among young children with more girls than boys enrolled in government institutions and more boys than girls enrolled in private institutions," the report added.
According to the report, among 4-5 year old children, 56.8 per cent girls and 50.4 per cent boys are enrolled in government schools or pre-schools while 43.2 per cent girls and 49.6 per cent boys are enrolled in private pre-schools or schools.
"The gap in enrolment between boys and girls is larger among 6-8 year olds, with 61.1 per cent of all girls versus 52.1 per cent of all boys in this age group," it said.
The survey found that older students do better in terms of performance on cognitive, early language, early numeracy and social and emotional learning. 50 per cent of the children whose mothers have done eight years or less schooling ended up in anganwadis or government school, whereas those mothers who has studied beyond elementary stages are more likely to enrol their wards in private schools.
"At age 5, what we offer to and expect from children varies enormously across the country depending on state norms for entry to school. As a result, what a 5-year-old is doing depends largely on where she lives. For example, in Thrissur, Kerala, 89.9 per cent of 5-year-olds are in a pre-primary grade and almost all the rest are in class 1. "But in East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, just 65.8 pc are in pre-school, 9.8 pc are in class 1, and 16 per cent are in class 2. On the other hand, in Satna, Madhya Pradesh, 47.7 pc are in pre-school, 40.5 pc are in class 1, and 4.1 pc are in class 2," the report said.
Noting that anganwadis cater to large proportions of children well before they can enter pre-primary grades, the report recommended that the "already significant scale of this network can be leveraged to reach those children who remain unreached. At the same time, the ability of these centres to implement appropriate school readiness activities for 3 and 4-year-olds needs to be strengthened".