Nine-year-old Azweena sat on a stool outside her house at Ammunje in Bantwal taluk and counted with her fingers, carefully carrying out the calculations the surveyors of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) asked her to do.

Asweena is one of the 600 children in 30 villages throughout the district who is covered under the ASER, a report prepared by the Delhi-based ASER Centre, which collects education-related data from children in 570 districts across the country by working with local groups.

In Dakshina Kannada, the survey is carried out by 30 volunteers working with Padi, a non-governmental organisation. Training coordinator Suresh Balila told The Hindu that the survey would be carried out in 30 villages across the district, according to instructions from Pratham, a non-governmental organisation that facilitates the survey. One part of the survey involves testing children at home and speaking to parents and assessment of the infrastructure of a school in the village formed the other crucial part.

Mr. Balila said according to instructions received from Pratham, a team of volunteers would obtain maps from gram panchayat and divide the village into four parts. Five houses from each part of the village would be covered under the survey.

Children aged between 3 and 15 in these houses were asked to read (in languages other than English taught at government schools in any given State) and do simple calculations suited to children of classes 1 and 2.

Asweena, who studies in class 3, was able to read and do the calculations with ease while Unais, also from the same, was unable to even read simple words in Kannada despite being in Class 3. While Asweena studies in local government school, Unais goes to an English-medium school.

Children asked to answer simple questions