One in four teens can't read basic text, but can work cellphones

Infographic by Siddhant Gupta

This year's Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2017 was published on Tuesday and explores one key question: how well are we preparing our youth to build a better future for themselves and for the country? The report was released in New Delhi. In looking at the age group of 14-18, the survey - to begin with - offers insights into the performance of the Right to Education Act, eight years after it made elementary education a fundamental right. The Right to Education (RTE) Act, which came into effect in 2010 and provided free and compulsory education. Professional aspirations, according to the report, were also gendered.

The survey also revealed that as of now 40 percent of the youth have no preference for the sector they wish to pursue the occupation and only a few of them wishes to be the part of the same professions as of their parents. But by the time they reach 18 years of age, the enrolment falls to 10.6%, and only 27.2% of India's youth is enrolled in undergraduate or other courses.

This is the first time the study included the older age group of 14 to 18. The survey also reveals that 25% of this age group still can not read basic text fluently in their own language and that 12.4% of children at the age of 14 didn't enroll in schools.

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The report suggests that about 25 % of the respond can not count money correctly. It studied if children were able to apply basic reading and arithmetic in everyday life. On the positive side, ASER-2017 found 86% of rural youth are enrolled in schools. More than 92 per cent children, aged 15, were in school. Those between 14 and 18 years of age - adolescents - can work except in hazardous occupations like mining and explosives. In these exercises, about one-fourth of the youth couldn't count correctly, 44 per cent could not add weights correctly in kilograms and telling time was also a problem. While 71% teens could tell what hour it was, the number dropped to half when they had to read the minutes as well. The report added that around 90.5 % of youth (14-18 years) in Mysuru district have their own bank account, but only 56% of these youth know how to deposit or withdraw money on their own. While over 72.6% of the youth in India had used mobile phones the past week, almost more than 60% of them reported that they had never accessed the Internet, and 75% had not used a computer.

The report also observes that the enrolment gap between males and females increases with age. At age 18, we expect our youth to be prepared for adulthood, eligible to join the formal workforce and vote.

Activity: What are they now doing - studying, working, or both? They are not fluent enough to read Tamil text.

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