Assam tops dropout rate in country: Centre
Assam has registered the highest school dropout rate in primary and secondary classes in the country, data tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Union human resource development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Thursday revealed.
The dropout rate continues to be high in secondary classes in other northeastern states as well, though these states, except Assam, have brought it down to single digit in primary classes, the data reflects.
Pokhriyal tabled the country’s statewise data of dropout rates in primary (I-V) and secondary (IX and X) classes between 2015-16 and 2017-18 in reply to a question asked by BJP MP from Maharashtra, Amar Shankar Sable.
In 2017-18, Assam registered 10.1 per cent dropout rate in primary classes and 33.7 per cent in secondary classes, followed by Arunachal Pradesh in primary category (8.1 per cent) and Bihar (32 per cent) in secondary category.
Manipur succeeded in bringing down the dropout rate considerably in both categories in 2017-18.
The minister cited poverty, other economic reasons, poor health and children needed for domestic work as reasons for children dropping out of schools in the country.
Pokhriyal said the Centre, through the Samagra Shiksha scheme, has been offering financial assistance to the states and Union Territories to reduce the number of dropouts.
The measures include opening new schools, construction of school buildings and additional classrooms, setting up Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, residential schools and hostels, distribution of free uniforms, free textbooks, transport allowance and midday meals, the minister added.
Although the data did not reflect the dropout rate in upper primary schools (classes VI to VIII), the Centre had earlier reminded the Assam government about its failure to reduce dropouts in upper primary classes too.
The minutes of a project approval board meeting of Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan had earlier said that Assam was committed to reduce its average dropout rate from 3.02 per cent in 2016-17 to 2.5 per cent in 2017-18 in upper primary schools.
“It was found that the annual average dropout rate has increased to 5.36 per cent in 2017-18 in upper primary classes in Assam,” the minutes said.
A senior official of the Assam education department said checking dropout rate continues to be a challenge for the department.
“One of the obvious factors contributing to school dropout rate is poverty. It is often seen that women are engaged as labourers in various industries like construction and brick kiln. They move from place to place in search of work, hampering the education of their children. Many of these kids leave their schools midway,” he said.