The survey that covered 30,000 students across 24 states focused on students aged between 14 and 18 for the first time. As per the 2011 Census, one in ten Indians is now in the said age group and 86 per cent of the youth in the category are now enrolled in formal education.
More than seven of 10 students covered by the survey said they had used a mobile phone within a week before the survey but about 25 per cent of those surveyed could not count money correctly, says the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 'Beyond Basics' that was released today.
Eight years after the Right to Education (RTE) Act -- that guarantees free and compulsory education till the age of 14 -- was introduced in India, enrolments may have gone up but the same cannot be said of the skills acquired by the target beneficiaries, the report suggests.
According to government figures, enrolment in Class 8 doubled from 11 million in 2004-05 to 22 million in 2014-15. But the gap in learning seems to have been carried forward from the elementary classes to the higher ones.
"We were shocked when we spoke to some of the children. Asked to name the capital of India, one of them said Pakistan while another mentioned China. These were Class 12 students who could not even mark their states on a map of India," said volunteers Bhawna Suthar and Manju Gayatri who were among the surveyors.
Another disturbing aspect highlighted by the survey is the rise in dropout rate as one moves to the upper end of the age group - from 5 per cent at the age of 14 to a whopping 30 per cent at 18. And 32 per cent of girls abandon school after completion of elementary education due to family constraints, marriage and even to earn money, compared to 28 per cent of boys, the report says.