My experience with ASER this year

By Joginder Shimla

During ASER survey in Himachal Pradesh, I got the chance to participate in ASER in three districts. The first district was Kullu in which DIET Kullu was our partner for the survey. On September 26, it was the last day of training in which first half of the session was about school observation and training overview. Mr. Rishi Rajvanshi was also with us. Total 60 DIET trainees were participating in the training. Mr. Rohit, ASER associates with an MT were there as training resource group. Second half of the day was kept for field visit in nearby villages. Besides that, a school was also to be visited by the volunteers. In the second half, the groups were divided into further sub groups. Each of us joined a sub-group. Then, we were supposed to survey some households of the villages. First of all, we observed the volunteers talking to household members. In the beginning, they appeared a bit shy to tell the purpose of their visit to the family head. As the conversation increased, they expressed their views more confidently.

After the field visit, the groups assembled in the DIET’s conference hall for their feedback. There were some queries from their side, which we tried to resolve. One important thing we noticed during the session was that volunteers were very serious about this survey. At the end, Mr. Chaman (DIET teacher training in-charge) also took a session on the importance of ASER in the HP context and  also gave emphasis on the point that the survey should be done very honestly as it leaves a large impact on the education plans and policies.

On October 15, I joined District training at DIET Shimla where 50 volunteers (trainees) were getting training on ASER. It was the first day of the training. Some teachers’ training was also going on in the DIET parallel to our program and we had to accommodate ourselves in the library room which was a bit congested. Here, we received very enthusiastic cooperation from the DIET. The Principal had appointed Mr. Neeraj (the DIET faculty) as the point person and he was also sitting in the training with us. Mr. Neeraj helped us to track the specific locations of villages and also directed respective BRCCs to make stay arrangements for DIET volunteers in certain cases.

On 27thof November, we were in a village of District Solan. Again in Solan, the DIET was our survey partner. Miss Kusum and Mr. Nittu Bhandari were there as survey volunteers in the village. It was Sunday and it was the first day of surveyors in that village and they were supposed to visit the school in the next day i.e. Monday. At the time of our arrival in the village, they were talking to villagers and preparing themselves for village mapping.

We joined them and took a round of the village. Actually, it was a scattered village having more than 200 households. Therefore, sampling seemed a little difficult. We had to walk approximately 4 km to take a round. After mapping, we divided the village into 4 parts. Then, we chose one of the hamlets to start our survey. The first house, we approached actually had three kitchens. Both of the volunteers had the understanding of selecting household in that case. So, they chose the respondent’s kitchen. We let the volunteers talk to household members. There were two children of 3-16 age groups. Their mother was an elementary teacher in a nearby DAV school. According to the mother, the results are better in the private schools as the parents are more aware that of government school children. In another household, we also got good cooperation from family members.