The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is a citizen-led household survey about learning outcomes, focusing not simply on inputs for quality or whether children are going to schools but what they are learning. It seeks to fill a gap in educational data by providing reliable and comprehensive data at a national level on the status of education of 3 to 16 year olds.
ASER Pakistan conducts annual measurement and mobilization exercises using volunteers to get reliable estimates of the status of children’s schooling and basic learning (reading and arithmetic) and then interprets these results, using them to advocate for policy change.
The survey data is compiled annually in a report and shared with the government, civil society organizations, local communities, the media, lawyers, bilateral and multilateral agencies and other stakeholders working in education. ASER results are propagated at multiple levels and repackaged as policy briefs, posters, and village and district report cards in order to highlight gaps in learning. This all contributes to engaging and pressuring key decision makers.
ASER Pakistan 2011 collected information of 146,874 children, aged 3-16 years in 49793 households, from 2599 villages/blocks, in 85 districts across Pakistan.
ASER 2011 evidence is most worrying on learning levels across school systems. There are 47.4 percent children in class 5 who can read simple class 2 stories in Urdu or their mother tongue, while 40.6 percent in the same category can read simple class 2 level sentences in English and only 37.3 percent children in class 5 can do three digit division.
Within school going children, again on average, public school children seem to be doing poorly when compared to their private school counter parts. In government schools, only 37.5 percent of class 3 students were able to read sentences whereas 53.3 percent of class 3 students in private schools could read sentences in Urdu or their mother tongue. Regarding English reading and comprehension, in government schools only 39.4 percent of class 3 students were able to read words whereas 65.5 percent of class 3 students in private schools could read words. Arithmetic learning level of children going to private schools is slightly better but far from being satisfactory. 48.1 percent of private school students of class 5 could do division correctly as opposed to 34.7 percent of class 5 students studying in government schools.
ASER data clearly shows that quality of education, measured in terms of numeracy and literacy (Urdu and English) skills also varies significantly across various divides. There are significant differences in what grade one, grade three and grade five children know across provinces, even districts, and across the rural-urban divide. Judging by what the children of a particular age or grade should know, keeping curriculum in mind, most children are doing poorly. So, on an absolute scale the quality of education that Pakistani children are getting, on average, is quite poor.
ASER is informing the Right to Education (RTE) debate in Pakistan where education has been declared a fundamental right and the state is obliged to provide free and compulsory education for children from 5 to 16 years of age. It has also inspired activism from civil society, local communities and parents as ASER teams conduct policy seminars/ briefings involving public representatives, government officials and civil society activists. Its methodology seeks to empower ALL citizens to seek evidence and take appropriate action.
In 2012, as ASER expands to cover all districts of the country and as its yearly surveys build a picture of the status of education across time, we hope the engagement of students, parents, local communities, citizens, civil society, academics, local, provincial and federal government officials, and international stakeholders will increase and become embedded into the education debate in the country. We hope that this engagement will be evidence-based and will allow progress tracking. By sharing its data and analysis, ASER will have a significant role to play in generating this evidence, creating tools for monitoring and evaluation and forming a basis for sustainable citizen engagement on education.
For more information on ASER Pakistan please visit their website