Most rural kids 14-18 can’t do Class 3 math, and over 25% can’t read: ASER 2023

Syllabus: GS-III;

Subject: Social Justice;

Topic: Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.

Tags: #ASER2023#DigitalLiteracy#STEM#VocationalTraining#Educational Enrollment.

Context: Rural Indian youth struggle with basic skills; ASER 2023 finds that 25% can’t read, and 56.7% can’t solve simple division.

Issue: ASER Report.


Highlights of the Report:

  • Conducted in 28 districts across 26 states, involving 34,745 students.
  • Assessed foundational reading, arithmetic abilities, and digital awareness.
  • More than half (50%) of 14-18 year-olds in rural India struggle with basic three-digit division, typically taught in Class 3-4.
  1. Reading Skills:
  • 5% of the surveyed youth could not read a Class 2-level textbook in their regional language.
  • 7% struggled to read sentences in English.
  • 5% of those who could read did not understand the meaning.
  1. Mathematics Challenges:
  • 7% of students could not solve a simple 3-digit by 1-digit division problem.
  1. Application of Skills:
  • Only around 45% could calculate the number of hours a child slept based on bedtime and waking time.
  • In measuring an object with a ruler, 85% were correct at the ‘0’ mark, but only 40% gave the right answer when the object was moved.
  1. Gender Disparities:
  • Boys generally outperformed girls in basic numeracy and reading skills.
  • For example, 45% of boys could divide compared to 41.8% of girls.
  1. Educational Enrollment:
  • Despite poor foundational skills, 86.8% of youth aged 14-18 are enrolled in educational institutions.
  • This challenges the concern that older children might drop out during the pandemic.
  1. Stream Preferences:
  • 7% of youth were enrolled in Arts/Humanities, 31.7% in STEM, and 9.4% in Commerce. More males (36.3%) enrolled in STEM than females (28.1%).
  1. Technology Access:
  • 89% of surveyed youth had smartphones in their households, and 92% knew how to use them. Indicates a significant shift in technology adoption, especially during the pandemic.


Emphasizes the need for foundational learning and life skills for both academic advancement and daily life. Urges attention to quality education to harness India’s demographic dividend for economic growth.

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