ASER Centre

Evidence for action

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ASER stands for Annual Status of Education Report. This is an annual survey that aims to provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India. ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in all rural districts of India. It is the largest citizen-led survey in India. It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India today.

Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey. This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools or anywhere else.

In each rural district, 30 villages are sampled. In each village, 20 randomly selected households are surveyed. This process generates a total of 600 households per district, or about 3,00,000 households for the country as a whole. Approximately 7,00,000 children in the age group 3-16 who are residents in these households are surveyed.

Information on schooling status is collected for all children living in sampled households who are in the age group 3-16. Children in the age group 5-16 are tested in basic reading and basic arithmetic. The same test is administered to all children. The highest level of reading tested corresponds to what is expected in Std 2; in 2012 this test was administered in 16 regional languages.

Every year, some additional tests are also administered. These vary from year to year. In 2007, 2009, and 2012, for example, children were tested in basic English.

In addition, basic household information is collected every year. In recent years, this has included household size, parental education, and some information on household assets.

ASER tools and procedures are designed by ASER Centre, the research and assessment arm of Pratham. The survey itself is coordinated by ASER Centre and facilitated by the Pratham network. It is conducted by close to 30,000 volunteers from partner organisations in each district. All kinds of institutions partner with ASER: colleges, universities, NGOs, youth groups, women’s organisations, self-help groups and others.

The ASER model has been adapted for use in several countries around the world: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Pakistan, Mali and Senegal. ASER reports from 2005 can be easily downloaded from the website.