Tuesday, April 17, 2012

[MLE] ASER education report 2011 for the first time includes language data

Dear Multilingual Education friends,
ASER does each year an independent assessment of the status of primary education in the country. ASER 2011 reached 558 districts, 16,017 villages, 327,372 households and 633,465 children. This year I somehow missed reporting on it in January. Here is a key finding you might find interesting:
Nationally, reading levels are estimated to have declined in many states across North India. The All India figure for the proportion of children in Std V able to read a Std 2 level text has dropped from 53.7% in 2010 to 48.2% in 2011. Such declines are not visible in the southern states.
However for this mailing list the most interesting thing is that this year for the first time the survey included a question on language:. The instructions read: “ Ask the child or any adult in the household which language is spoken at home, by the family members” (Full instructions copied below.) The summary of the result is:
A quarter of all rural children attend primary schools where the medium of instruction is different from their home language
I looked at the data per state. Some interesting figures:

STATE Home Language is Different From School Language (%)
Nagaland 100%
Chhattisgarh 99%
Manipur 98%
Arunachal Pradesh 96%
Jammu & Kashmir 95%
Himachal Pradesh 89%
Rajasthan 77%
Uttarkhand 67%
Jharkhand 61%
Bihar 53%
(The full table is given below)
It is interesting that such a high percentage of people from Hindi dominant states report on an other language at home. This seems to indicate a strong identity on the side of people groups like Marwaris (Rajasthan), Garhwalis (Uttarkhand) and Kangaris (Himachal) etc. to consider their language as distinct from Hindi. At the same time it is puzzling that e.g. Orissa, which has a tribal population of around 24%, only 8% reports to have a different home language. Madhya Pradesh has 20% tribals but on 3% reports on a different language at home. Does that indeed mean they speak the state language at home or does it mean they are shy to report on home language?
The good news it that ASER is planning to do some additional analyses on this language data. We are looking forward to the outcome of that!
Karsten van Riezen
Consultant, LinkedIn Profile
SIL International, South Asia Group

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________________________________ Full date, gathered informally from the ASER report__________________________

STATE Home Language is Different From School Language (%)
Nagaland 100%
Chhattisgarh 99%
Manipur 98%
Arunachal Pradesh 96%
Jammu & Kashmir 95%
Himachal Pradesh 89%
Rajasthan 77%
Uttarkhand 67%
Jharkhand 61%
Bihar 53%
Meghalaya 48%
Assam 48%
Mizoram 37%
Tripura 34%
Andhra Pradesh 31%
Haryana 22%
Karnataka 19%
Punjab 19%
Maharashtra 14%
Orissa 8%
West Bengal 8%
Tamil Nadu 8%
Uttar Pradesh 6%
Madhya Pradesh 3%
Kerala 2%
Gujarat 1%
Daman & Diu 0%
Puducherry 0%
Average 41%

____________________________________ Instructions in The ASER report on the question on language ___________________________
School and home language information in ASER 2011
The Right to Education Act recommends that the child’s “medium of instruction shall, as far as practicable, be
in the child’s mother tongue” (Chapter V, Section 29, Clause 2 (f)). Several studies have indicated that children
whose home language is different from the school language have lower attendance and learning levels.1
Given this background, for the first time in ASER, in 2011 we recorded the child’s home language. This enables
us to see how many children have a home language background that is different from the medium of instruction
in school.
Given the multiplicity of Indian languages and dialects, finalising a list of languages that could be used for the
survey was a mammoth task in itself. As a starting point, we took into consideration the list of 22 scheduled
languages mentioned in Census 2001.2 We also consulted experts at the Central Institute of Indian Languages,
Mysore. Their suggestion was that in addition to the list of scheduled languages list, we could also include a list
of 100 non-scheduled languages. A further list of 234 mother-tongue languages was also suggested.3 (In the
Mother tongue list, Hindi is listed in 49 different ways!)
Including all three lists would have given us a list with over 350 languages. While this would have made the
survey much more comprehensive, it posed quite a few problems for our volunteers and for data analysis. All
these languages would have to be coded and extreme care would have to be taken in the field to fill in the
codes correctly, which would have proved to be a cumbersome and complicated process in the field. Hence,
given that this was our first attempt to engage with the question of language, we decided to use the list of 22
scheduled and 100 non-scheduled languages from Census 2001.
For data collection, ASER volunteers were given the following instructions:
Ask the child or any adult in the household which language is spoken at home, by the family members. Refer
to the list of languages and put in the appropriate code in the given box.
If the family says they speak more than one language in the household, then find out which is the main
language spoken at home. Accordingly, write ONLY ONE LANGUAGE CODE in the household format.
Write down the code of the language mentioned by the respondent, regardless of what you may think the
household speaks at home. If this language is not in the ‘Language Code List’, then write 999. For e.g., if the
respondent says ‘Avadhi’ is the language spoken at home, and ‘Avadhi’ is not coded in the ‘Language Code
List’, then write 999.

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