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Class VIII school for ‘every locality’
- Bid to reduce dropouts

Calcutta, Dec. 17: The government has decided to set up at least one junior high school — that teaches up to Class VIII — in every locality to reduce the number of dropouts after Class IV, school education minister Partha De said today.

A large number of students across Bengal quit school after their primary level — Class IV — despite the government’s efforts to check the dropout rate, De told the Assembly.

There is only one junior high school for five to six primary schools now. The ratio would be increased to one junior high school for every two primary schools over the years but the immediate aim was to make it 1:3, the minister said.

About 60 lakh children get admission to Class I every year, but around 80 per cent drop out later.

The early findings of a school-mapping drive by the education department suggest many students are compelled to quit education after Class IV because of the absence of a high school nearby. Most rural parents do not want to send their children, particularly girls, to a school far from home.

De said the number of dropouts at the primary level had come down this year. “Now we want to ensure that not even a single child is deprived of education after Class IV because of the absence of a high school in the locality.”

District magistrates have been told to suggest sites for the new institutions.

The minister revealed the government’s plan when his party colleague Pradip Ta wanted to know the steps being taken to check the number of dropouts in rural areas.

Ideally, De said, there should be a school every kilometre.

The survey, under way for the past two months, shows there are enough primary schools in the state but the distance between them is big at many places, the minister said. About 300 more primary schools have to be set up to rectify that.

The study has already been completed in Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, North and South Dinajpur, parts of East Midnapore, Murshidabad and Purulia.

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