The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Schools to draw dropouts

Krishnagar, July 6: Nadia district, facing a deluge of school dropouts ' from the age of 14 to 40 ' is readying a project to bring them back to classrooms.

The district administration unveiled a plan to open 500 schools in Nadia’s remote and backward villages this month for both children and adults, who either never attended school or left midway.

The project is part of the government’s scheme under the Centre-sponsored Sarba Saksharata Mission to open around 2,000 schools across the district, which has the most number of dropouts in the state, most of them girls.

Many of these schools will come up in place of institutions run by non-government organisations that have been lying under lock and key for some time.

They will have infrastructure like solar panels providing electricity and arsenic-free tube-wells supplying drinking water. The administration will also make arrangements for mid-day meals, expected to be a big draw for the villagers.

The administration in Nadia, which has underlined the need to bring more girls to classrooms, has decided to distribute uniforms to them free of cost.

“We have identified 40 most backward villages where residents lack basic amenities like electricity, proper drinking water and roads,” said district magistrate Rajesh Pandey.

These villages, including Nakashipara, Chapra, Kaligunj, Karimpur, Hanskhali and Tehatta, record a dropout rate of nearly 70 per cent at the primary level.

“We have decided to motivate the children and other residents to take full advantage of the scheme,” Pandey said.

Each school will have four or five teachers, who will be selected from among village youths and will be employed on contract. “The schools initially will be primary schools, which will gradually be upgraded to Class X,” the district magistrate said.

Zilla parishad sabhadhipati Rama Biswas said the schools would impart conventional education to children and for adults, there will be vocational training in areas such as fishery, animal husbandry, health and family welfare.

According to Pandey, there are enough schools in Nadia ' there is at least one primary school in each village and a high school for every two villages ' and the authorities have tried to make education attractive. Apart from the mid-day meal, schools have started showing Charlie Chaplin films. Yet, they have not been able to check the frequent dropouts.

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