Annual Status of Education Report of 2017 (Rural): Beyond Basics

16 Jan, 2018


  1. About 1 in every 10 Indians was between the age 14 and 18, and the total number of youths in this age group was nearly 125 million.

  2. Class 8 enrolment doubled in the past decade, from 11 million to 22 million. But the proportion of youths acquiring foundation skills was very low. In 2016, less than half of those in Class 8 could solve a Class 6 division problem.

  3. The proportion of youths not enrolled in school or college increased with age. Five per cent of those aged 14 were not enrolled in school, while 30 per cent of 18-year-olds were not in college.

  4. Forty two per cent of youths were working, whether they were enrolled in formal education or not. Of these, 79 per cent worked in agriculture – almost all on their own family farms. Yet, only 0.5. per cent of all undergraduates were enrolled in agricultural or veterinary courses.

  5. A large proportion of youths could read simple text, but their math levels were quite poor and did not show improvement with age. Young women performed worse than men on almost all tasks.

  6. Substantial numbers of young people who had completed eight years of schooling, had difficulty applying their literacy and numeracy skills to real-world situations.

  7. About 25 per cent of youths could not fluently read basic text in their own language. More than half struggled with division problems (3 digits by 1 digit), and only 43 per cent were able to do such problems correctly. The proportion of 14-year-olds who had not acquired basic arithmetic skills, was the same as that of 18-year-olds.

  8. About 58 per cent of those who had completed eight years of schooling or were enrolled in a school or college, could read and understand easy instructions printed on packages. But only 22 per cent of those who were not enrolled in an educational institution, could do so.

  9. Only 38 per cent of young people could apply a discount to a product and figure out how much to pay after the discount.

  10. Only 42 per cent of youths could point to their state on the map of India.

  11. About 59 per cent of young people had never used a computer and 64 per cent had never used the Internet. For those in the educational system, access to the Internet and computers was higher than for those who were not in it. Girls and young women had far lower access than boys.

  12. About 51 per cent of youths had deposited or withdrawn money from the bank. Sixteen per cent had used an ATM or debit card, but only five per cent had ever done a transaction using a payment app or mobile banking.

  13. About 60 per cent of young people wanted to study beyond Class 12. The proportion was almost half (35 per cent) among youths who could not read Class 2-level text easily. 

  14. Professional aspirations were gendered – young men aimed to join the army or police or become engineers while women showed a preference for teaching or nursing careers. 

  15. Almost a third of the youths who were not enrolled in an educational institution, did not aspire to be in a specific occupation. About 40 per cent did not have any role models in their hoped-for professions either.

    Factoids and Focus compiled by Tarun Gidwani.


Since 2005, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has provided data on schooling and children’s ability to do basic reading and arithmetic. Since 2006, the report has focused on the age group 5-16. This report for 2017 focuses on rural youth in the age group aged 14-18 since they are close to an income-earning age. It tries to understand their preparedness to lead productive adult lives.

In particular, the report examines what the youth are doing, whether they can apply basic reading and arithmetic skills to everyday situations, their familiarity with routine digital and financial processes, and their educational and career goals. The findings are based on data gathered from 28,323 youths, 23,868 households, and 26 rural districts in 24 states.


ASER Centre, New Delhi