| Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator
Krishnagar, Nov. 14: The Great Dictator appears to be casting his spell on schools across Nadia.
Six months after the district administration decided to screen Charlie Chaplin films in primary schools to improve enrolment and stem dropouts, the plan seems to have succeeded.
“We are so encouraged by the results that we are thinking of using Chaplin films to check dropouts at the secondary level also. The credit goes to Charlie Chaplin and his films Modern Times, The Great Dictator and Pawnshop,” said district magistrate Rajesh Pandey.
According to a survey carried out by the administration, 30,000 children in the district did not go to school at the beginning of this year. “Six months after introducing Charlie Chaplin (films) in about 2,200 schools, we find about 24,000 such children have enrolled,” Pandey said.
The survey revealed that in the same period 10,000 of the 25,000-odd children who had dropped out from Classes II and III in the past three years had returned.
In April, the administration decided to launch the scheme in the 3,000-odd primary schools of the district. It has spent about Rs 12 lakh to screen the films.
Pandey said the administration had been sceptical if the move would work. “We wondered whether it would be wise to spend so much money to woo dropouts. But we took a risk that paid off. We are contemplating whether we can screen Charlie Chaplin films to woo dropouts at the secondary level. Nadia has a 70 per cent dropout rate between Class V and Class VIII,” he said. There are 1,500 junior high and secondary schools in the district.
A district official said the movies were shown twice a week but in places where the dropout rate is high, they were screened thrice or more times. After each show, members of the local village education committees would counsel students on the importance of attending school.
“Within another six months, we are confident of enrolling the rest of the children who have never been to school or have dropped out,” said Pandey, also the director of the district Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.
Officials said even after the scheme was launched, some parents had been reluctant to send their children to school. “But members of the village education committees convinced them children should attend school regularly,” said Bibhash Biswas, chairman of the primary school council of Nadia.
Bengal has an average of 65 per cent dropouts in the age group of 10 to 14. In Nadia, the dropout rate is 70 per cent. “The reason such a large number of students leave school is child labour. Many work in tea stalls and factories to earn their living. We are asking them to enrol in schools meant exclusively for child labourers,” said a district official.