The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is the largest non-governmental household survey undertaken in rural India and is facilitated by the Pratham Education Foundation.
'ASER' means impact in Hindi. True to its meaning, the survey measures the enrolment status of children between 3-16 years and tests basic reading and arithmetic abilities of children through a detailed process that uses a common set of testing tools and a comprehensive sampling framework.
In each rural district, a local institution carries out the survey. The entire pan-Indian process is completed within approximately 100 days and the report is released in January each year. The findings are disseminated widely within the government and elsewhere at the national, state, district and village levels.
ASER has become an important factor in the education policies of both the Central and State Governments with several State Governments using the findings to help define their education programmes each year. The findings of the survey have been cited in the approach paper to the 11th Planning Commission and the Economic Survey of India.
In 2013, ASER reached about 600,000 children in more than 16,000 villages in 570 rural districts of India. The participation included over 25,00 to 30,000 volunteers and 500 partner organizations, educational institutions, and DIETs.
The ASER Model
ASER has demonstrated that it is possible to use simple, reliable, and scientific methods of sampling and assessment on a large scale for high impact at a low cost. It has also been an excellent example of building local participation at a national level and has allowed ordinary citizens to understand the current status of elementary education. However, it is most significant for defining a qualitative educational agenda and is widely used in government and policy circles both inside and outside of India.