2005-2008: LEARNINGS FROM ASER
experience of facilitating ASER all over the country generated some important
insights which led to the establishment of ASER Centre in early 2008:
lack of information on outcomes and how these can lead to action. There is an overall public perception
that government delivery of services cannot be improved. There is also limited
awareness of the fact that government programs are actually funded by tax payer
money. Thus the demand for improved quality is low. However, unless people and
(in the case of schools) parents demand better services, quality is unlikely to
improve regardless of government provisioning. Despite dissatisfaction with the
current state of affairs, it is relatively rare to see citizens organizing themselves
on scale for assessment and action.
lack of a culture of measurement and analysis especially with respect to
outcomes. Whether within the government
or otherwise, the practice of using evidence to formulate plans and to take
stock of progress is rare.
widespread need for basic capacity building with respect to the nuts and bolts
of measurement, evidence and analysis. At the district and even at state level, ordinary people –students, citizens’
groups, non-government organizations and even mid levels of government—have
limited access to basic technical knowledge and skills of sampling, survey
methodology or statistics. Moreover, people with both technical knowledge and
field experience are hard to find.
need for empirically grounded advocacy for action. The Pratham-ASER approach
visualises measurement as the first stage for action, and both tools and
findings are used to propel action at different levels. Involving large numbers
of people in identifying and quantifying a problem is the first step in
enabling action. The next step is to create a demand for better services at the
ground level. The ASER approach, with its simple methods and tools, has the
potential to catalyze change at the community level.
Next: History/2008: ASER Centre is established