ASER Centre

Evidence for action

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Several years’ experience of facilitating ASER all over the country generated some important insights which led to the establishment of ASER Centre in early 2008:

  • ·The 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.
  • ·The 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.
  • ·The 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.
  • ·The 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.

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