ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Beyond ASER 2017


In the article “Assessing ASER 2017: Reading between the Lines” (EPW, 24 February 2018), Disha Nawani succinctly points out the limitations of large-scale assessments, the foundations of which are based on a limited and flawed understanding of education and learning. Conclusions drawn from ASER such as the “better outcomes of private schools,” do not take into account the social and political context of learning and education.

While I am in solidarity with the author with respect to her criticism of ASER and its dangerous claims for the deregulation of private schools and scrapping of no-detention policy, I think that attention should not shift away from the poor quality of education that millions of our children are trapped in. Unlike ASER, the Literacy Research in Indian Languages (LiRIL) project—jointly funded by Tata Trusts and Azim Premji University, in collaboration with Quality Education Support Trust (QUEST), Maharashtra and Kalike, Karnataka—goes beyond the “performance-levels of students” and tries to understand the complexity and nuances of literacy acquisition. The project collected data on children, teachers, curricular materials, teaching–learning processes, and on children’s environment beyond schools. Even such a study, with a larger canvas of understanding of literacy learning, confirmed that children in both the project sites—Wada in Maharashtra and Yadgir in Karnataka—perform very poorly in a variety of reading and writing tasks. While understanding the politics of large-scale assessments like ASER and their unjustifiable appropriation of education systems and processes, we should not ignore this other elephant in the room.

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Updated On : 9th Mar, 2018
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