Describe the key findings and implications of the ASER 2023 ‘Beyond Basics’ survey conducted by the NGO Pratham. Discuss the significance of gender disparities, digital proficiency, and subject choices in higher classes. Also, analyze the potential role of the education system in addressing these findings, considering the New Education Policy of 2020 and the need for flexibility in education.


The ASER 2023 ‘Beyond Basics’ survey conducted by Pratham, a prominent NGO, focused on 14-to-18-year-old children in rural areas of India. The key findings and implications of the survey, along with the significance of certain aspects, are outlined below:

Key Findings:

  1. Diverse Activities: Many children in the 14-18 age group are engaged in multiple activities, including work, often for their parents. Approximately 30% of respondents are already working, but when asked about their aspirations, they express a desire for different career paths.
  2. Importance of Basic Skills: Basic skills in reading and math are crucial for everyday tasks. Around 25% of children in this age group struggle to read a Standard II-level text fluently in their regional language, and more than half face challenges with division problems expected in Std III or IV.
  3. Gender Disparities: Girls outperform boys in reading fluency, while boys fare better in both arithmetic and English reading. However, more than 90% of both boys and girls can use smartphones, but boys have greater ownership and access.
  4. Digital Proficiency: While most respondents can use basic smartphone functions, there is a gap in in-depth usage. Boys tend to outperform girls in digital tasks. Two-thirds of smartphone users reported using it for education-related activities, indicating the potential for digital learning avenues.
  5. Enrollment Gap vs. Digital Access: While the enrollment gap between boys and girls has narrowed, there is still a disparity in digital access. Boys have greater ownership and access to smartphones.
  6. Utilizing School as a Platform: Schools serve as a platform to reach a significant portion of the age group. The information obtained through school enrollment can be used to enhance various components beyond traditional classroom learning.
  7. Subject Choices in Higher Classes: The majority of respondents in Class 11 or higher are studying humanities-related subjects, reflecting the availability of subjects in their villages. This poses questions about their prospects in a job market that emphasizes STEM knowledge.
  8. Flexibility in Education: The New Education Policy of 2020 allows for more flexibility, enabling students to explore alternative learning opportunities. There is a need for greater flexibility in the education system to cater to diverse interests and subjects not offered locally.


  1. Skill Development: The survey highlights the importance of focusing on basic skills in reading and math to empower young individuals for everyday tasks and future opportunities.
  2. Gender Empowerment: Addressing gender disparities in digital access and ownership is crucial for ensuring equal opportunities and empowerment, promoting inclusivity in the digital era.
  3. Digital Learning Potential: The significant use of smartphones for education-related activities suggests the potential for digital learning avenues. Leveraging technology can enhance educational outcomes and bridge gaps in access.
  4. Role of Schools: Schools can serve as essential platforms for reaching and addressing the diverse needs of the age group, extending beyond traditional classroom learning.
  5. STEM Education: The prevalence of humanities-related subjects in higher classes raises questions about aligning education with the demands of the job market, emphasizing the need for a balance between STEM and humanities education.
  6. Flexible Education System: The New Education Policy’s emphasis on flexibility opens opportunities for students to explore diverse subjects and learning pathways, promoting a more inclusive and responsive education system.

Analyzing the Potential Role of the Education System:

  1. Enhanced Basic Skills: The education system should prioritize foundational skills in reading and math, ensuring that students acquire essential competencies during their formative years.
  2. Digital Literacy Programs: To address the gender gap in digital proficiency, educational institutions should implement digital literacy programs, fostering equal access and skills development.
  3. Integration of Technology: Schools can play a pivotal role in integrating technology into the learning process, creating a conducive environment for digital education and skill development.
  4. Career Guidance: The education system should provide comprehensive career guidance to help students make informed decisions about subject choices, aligning their aspirations with market demands.
  5. STEM Focus: While promoting flexibility, there should be a concerted effort to enhance STEM education, preparing students for a job market that increasingly values science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills.
  6. Community Involvement: Engaging local communities in the educational process can enhance the relevance of subjects offered and ensure that the education system meets the unique needs of each region.
  7. Monitoring and Evaluation: Regular monitoring and evaluation of educational programs can help identify gaps, assess the effectiveness of interventions, and inform policy decisions for continuous improvement.

In conclusion, the ASER 2023 survey sheds light on critical aspects of rural education in India, emphasizing the need for a responsive and inclusive education system that addresses foundational skills, digital literacy, and subject choices. The New Education Policy’s flexibility provides an opportunity for positive transformation, and strategic interventions can contribute to a more equitable and effective education landscape.Top of Form

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