We are aware of the fact that the condition of school education in most parts of the country is in serious need of revival and reworking given the lack of infrastructure, absence of quality teachers, unawareness about the importance of education among large sections of the society and the inability of the nation-state to make quality education both accessible and affordable.
Amidst this fractured educational ecosystem, data produced by the Centre on dropout rates across various states shows the plight of school education even decades after we gained independence.
The dropout rates in schools is the highest in Assam, at both primary and secondary levels. The dropout rate in Assam at primary level was 10.1% in 2017-18 followed by Arunachal Pradesh(8.1), Mizoram(8), Uttar Pradesh(8) and Tamil Nadu(5.9) At secondary level, Assam’s dropout rate was 33.7% followed by Bihar(32), Odisha(28.3), Tripura(27.2) and Karnataka(24.3). At the secondary level too, the dropout rates were highest in Assam at 33.7% between 2017-18 followed by Bihar, Odisha, Tripura, Karnataka.
Commenting on the data released by the Centre, the Ministry of Human Resource Development said that the reasons for children dropping out include poverty and other economic reasons, poor health, using children for domestic as well as farm labour among a host of other issues.
It would not be wrong to then conclude that the high dropout rates in Assam and other states does paint a very dismal picture of the state of education in the country.
The reasons behind such high dropout rates is also quite disheartening and depressing. One of the greatest educational challenges that a country like India faces at present is high dropout rates and low attendance. Children dropping out or not attending school has deep implications and negative consequences. It results in the loss of productivity of the education system as a high drop-out rate increases per unit cost of school education and reduces the potential for human resource development. Drop-outs in most likelihood are engaged in semi-skilled and unskilled employment opportunities according to a study conducted by NUEPA.
Even if we were to look at it in policy terms and the government’s emphasis on schemes like “Skill India” and “Make in India”, they too would not see a heightened success if we are unable to address the issues around high dropout and low attendance in our schools.
The abysmal picture that the data released by the Centre paints is only a reminder of the long path that we have to travel as a nation in order to make quality education accessible to one and all and to attract children across economic and regional backgrounds to school and eventually to a good life.