Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2020: Wave 1


The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is a nationwide household survey on children’s education and learning outcomes conducted across rural India. Children aged 3-16 years are surveyed based on pre-school and school enrolment, and those between the age of 5-16 years are assessed individually on reading and basic arithmetic skills. While the survey has been conducted yearly since 2005, ASER has been following an alternate year cycle since 2016 – the main report is released every two years with the intervening years dedicated to specific topics of interest.

ASER 2020 focuses on the impact of school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s education in rural India. It studies students’ access to learning materials and resources required for online education. The sample-based study was coordinated by Mumbai-based non-governmental organisation Pratham, and carried out by 1,514 volunteers from NGOs, colleges, universities, district-level educational institutes and teacher training institutes, among other entities. The survey was conducted through telephonic interviews and covered 584 districts in 26 states and four union territories. A total of 52,227 households and 8,963 schools were examined.

The 169-page report is divided into seven chapters: Partners and volunteers, Supporters, Special thanks (chapter 1); About Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020 Wave 1 (chapter 2); Commentary (chapter 3); About ASER (chapter 4); ASER 2020 Wave 1 (Rural) findings – India (chapter 5); ASER 2020 Wave 1 (Rural) findings – State Estimates (chapter 6); and ASER 2020 Wave 1 process documents (chapter 7).


  1. The report states that 5.3 per cent of boys and 5.7 per cent of girls in rural India are not enrolled in schools. These rates were 3.7 per cent and 4.2 per cent in 2018.

  2. Girls aged 11-14 form the category of children with the highest enrolment rate in government schools in rural areas. As of 2020, the rate stood at 71.9 per cent. Boys in the 7-10 years category have the highest rate of enrolment (33.6 per cent) in private schools..

  3. The number of children aged 5-8 years who are not enrolled in schools grew from 3.6 per cent in 2018 to 7.5 per cent in 2020 – an increase of four percentage points. This rise is highest among children aged five.

  4. The number of boys aged 6-10 years who are not currently enrolled in school increased from 1.8 per cent in 2018 to 5.3 per cent in 2020. The corresponding number of girls grew from 1.8 per cent in 2018 to 5.2 per cent in 2020. 

  5. Schooling has undergone substantial changes during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the emergence of online learning. While 90 per cent of the surveyed households owned a cell phone, only 62 per cent had access to smartphones. Around 10 per cent of the households also reported buying a new smartphone during the pandemic.

  6. Among households with children enrolled in schools, 38.2 per cent did not have access to a smartphone, 45.2 per cent owned one smartphone, 11.8 per cent owned two smartphones, and 4.3 per cent owned three or more.

  7. Among the children enrolled in schools, 53 per cent of their mothers and 70.8 per cent of fathers had completed over five years of primary school education.

  8. The parents of 22.5 per cent of children enrolled in schools had not studied up to Class 5. About 23 per cent of these children reported receiving help in studies from an older sibling.

  9. About 33 per cent of children in Class 1-2 received help while studying from their mothers. This rate decreased to 15 per cent children in Class 9 and above. The report mentions that learning support from older siblings increases as children move to higher classes.

  10. As of September 2020, 33.5 per cent of children enrolled in government schools received learning resources – such as textbooks, worksheets in print or online, recorded lectures, and videos – from schools. This rate was 40.6 per cent for children studying in private schools.

  11. As high as 67 per cent of households with children in government schools, and 87 per cent with children in private schools, reported receiving study materials through WhatsApp messages as of September 2020. About 32 per cent of households with children going to government schools reported getting learning resources through visits to schools by parents or by school teachers to the child's home.

  12. About 37.3 per cent of students who studied in Class 9, and 30.8 per cent of those in Class 1-2, reported receiving learning material from schools.

  13. The report states that girls had slightly better access to textbooks and study support at home. About 84.5 per cent of girls enrolled in government schools and 72.8 per cent in private schools had access to textbooks. This rate stood at 83.7 per cent and 71.8 per cent for boys enrolled in government and private schools.

    Focus and factoids by Gayatri Ailani.


ASER Centre


ASER Centre, New Delhi


01 Feb, 2021