More than seven of 10 in the age group of 14-18 used a cellphone last week but a quarter of them cannot read basic text fluently in their own language.
The percentage of those not enrolled in school or college at the age of 14 stood at 5 per cent; the same rose to 30 per cent at 18 years of age.
While there is hardly any difference between boys and girls in enrollment in schools and colleges when they are 14, the gap steadily widens as they become older.
These are some of the findings of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 that was published on Tuesday. ASER 2017 has focused on 14-18-year-olds, who have just moved beyond the elementary school and are the first batch to pass out of class VIII after the implementation of the Right to Education Act 2009. Currently, the RTE Act makes education a fundamental right for children in the age group of 6 to 14 years
The survey was carried out in a total of 28 districts of 24 states with four domains in focus — what are they doing, ability, awareness and aspirations.
The survey found that while 25 per cent in the 14-18 age group still cannot read basic text fluently in their own language, more than half struggle with division problems. As for English sentences, 53 per cent of the 14-year-olds can read them. Significantly, the report has found that the proportion of youths who have not acquired basic math skills by age 14 is the same as that of 18-year-olds.
The survey, which also looks at the understanding of the youth’s access to media, financial institutions and digital world, found 73 per cent of the youth had used a mobile phone in the last week.
Here, too, the gender differences are glaring. As against 12 per cent boys who had never used a mobile phone, the number of girls for the same was higher – 22 per cent.
Despite a countrywide push towards the digital, 59 per cent youth have never worked on a computer and 64 per cent have never used the Internet. There is no gender parity here as well. As against 49 per cent boys who have never used the Internet, close to 76 per cent girls have never done so.
While there is a little difference in enrolment between boys and girls when they are 14, the gap shows up as they become older. At 18 years of age, according to the report, 32 per cent girls are not enrolled as compared to 28 per cent boys.
Out of this number, only about 5 per cent are enrolled in some type of vocational course. Irrespective of students being enrolled in formal education, 42 per cent youths are working. Of this, 79 per cent worked in the family’s farm and 89 per cent females were engaged in household chores as against 77 per cent males.