Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2021


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 2021 studies the impact of schools reopening after the Covid-19 lockdown on children’s enrolment, dropout patterns and the quality of learning. It also discusses the challenges faced in reopening schools and resuming offline studies. In states where schools were yet to reopen, it examines the progress made in remote teaching and learning processes.

The sample-based study was coordinated by Mumbai-based non-governmental organisation Pratham, and carried out by volunteers from NGOs, colleges, universities, district-level educational institutes and teacher training institutes, among other entities. The survey was conducted in September-October 2021 through telephonic interviews and covered 581 districts and 17,184 villages in 25 states and three union territories. A total of 76,706 households and 7,299 schools were examined. The report was published on November 17, 2021.

This 91-page report is divided into ten chapters: ASER 2021 Partners and Supporters (chapter 1); Special Thanks (chapter 2); An Overview of ASER 2021 (chapter 3); Commentary (chapter 4); About ASER 2021 (chapter 5); Household Survey Major Findings (chapter 6); Household Survey: Additional Tables (chapter 7); School Reopening Status during Survey (chapter 8); School Survey: Major Findings (chapter 9); and Process Documents (chapter 10).


  1. The enrolment of children aged 6-14 in private schools decreased from 32.5 per cent in 2018 to 24.4 per cent in 2021. Enrolment among children of the same age in government schools increased from 64.3 to 70.3 per cent in this period. The report posits the reasons for this shift to be the shutting down of affordable private schools, the return of migrants to their home states, and economic distress.

  2. The report cites the proportion of children of 6-14 years not enrolled in school to be 4.6 per cent. Among children aged 15-16 years – the age group considered most likely to drop out of schools – the rate of children not currently enrolled in schools declined from 9.9 per cent in 2020 to 6.6 per cent in 2021.

  3. The number of girls enrolled in government schools went from 70 to 71.9 per cent between 2018 and 2021. While the enrolment of girls in government schools has consistently been greater than that of boys, this gender gap narrowed during the pandemic. The number of boys enrolled in government schools increased from 62.8 per cent in 2018 to 72 per cent in 2021.

  4. There has been a rise in the number of children taking private tuitions. This rate went from 28.6 per cent in 2018, to 32.5 per cent in 2019 and 39.2 per cent in 2021. About 41.1 per cent of students in Class 9 and above take paid tuition classes.

  5. Among children whose parents have studied up to Class 5, there has been a 12.6 per cent increase in the proportion of those who take tuitions. This rise is relatively lower – 7.2 per cent – among children with parents who have completed their education up to at least Class 9.

  6. In 2018, 29.6 per cent of families with children enrolled in government schools had at least one smartphone. This number increased to 56.4 per cent in 2020 and 63.7 per cent in 2021. But only 27 per cent of children who belonged to families owning a smartphone could access it anytime for studying.

  7. A child's access to smartphones in households was found to be proportional to the education level of their parents – with an increase in the education level, the accessibility to smartphones was higher. Over 80 per cent of children whose parents had studied till at least Class 9 had a smartphone at home, compared to the 50 per cent whose parents had passed Class 5 or less. 

  8. As per the report, 74.9 per cent of children received learning support from parents and elder siblings in 2020, which declined to 66.6 per cent in 2021.

  9. Between 2020 and 2021, the proportion of children studying in Class 1-2 who received learning support from family declined from 81.5 per cent to 74.3 per cent. This rate was reported to be 68.3 per cent in 2020 and 56.7 per cent in 2021 for children studying in Class 9 and above.

  10. In 2021, 91.9 per cent of children overall – 92.3 per cent of those enrolled in government schools and 90.7 per cent in private schools – had access to textbooks for their current grades. This rate was 80.5 per cent in 2020.

  11. Among children whose schools had not reopened as of September 2021, the availability of study materials – which included worksheets, online or pre-recorded classes, and videos sent through phones or received in person – increased from 35.6 per cent in 2020 to 39.8 per cent in 2021.

  12. Out of the 7,299 government schools surveyed, 3,958 had fully reopened, 914 had partially reopened and 2,427 had not opened as of September 2021.

  13. Among the schools which had reopened, 93.5 per cent had received a government notification to implement safety measures during the reopening process. Roughly 65.4 per cent of the respondent schools report that they had been inspected for Covid-19 prevention measures. As high as 92.8 per cent of the reopened schools had water, 91.7 per cent had soap, 95.1 per cent had sanitisers, 31.4 per cent had temperature guns, 72.7 per cent had extra masks and 4.3 per cent had quarantine rooms.

    Focus and factoids by Gayatri Ailani.


ASER Centre


ASER Centre, New Delhi


17 Nov, 2021