One out of every eight students enrolled in a school or college tends to drop out midway without completing the education and over 62% of all dropouts happen at the school level, a survey by the National Statistical Office (NSO) of the government of India has revealed.
Overall, 12.6 per cent students drop out of studies in India, the survey found. More than one-third of the dropouts happen at the secondary and upper primary levels of education. While 19.8 per cent students discontinued education at the secondary level, about 17.5 per cent dropped out at the upper primary level, the survey said. At the higher secondary level, the dropout rate is 9.6 per cent, it said.
The survey defined a dropout as an “ever-enrolled person” who does not complete the last level of education for which he/she has enrolled and is currently not attending any educational institution.
About 62.9 per cent of the total dropout happens at the school level, the survey said. The possibility of a person dropping out of academics declines as he/she attains higher levels of education or after he/she starts attending college. The dropout rate is least after the post-graduation level, the survey showed.
Both males (boys) and females (girls) tend to drop out at the secondary level the most. About 20.4 per cent boys and 19.2 per cent girls stopped their education at this level. This is followed by the upper primary level for boys and diploma (below graduate) level for girls.
The dropout rate declines for both genders as they attain higher levels of education.
While there isn’t a huge gap in the percentages of boys and girls dropping out, the reasons for them not continuing with their education are very different.
More than 40 per cent of girls drop out because of marriage or engagement in domestic (household) work, while most boys leave education to involve in economic activities to support families.
About 13.2 per cent of girls cited marriage and 30.2 per cent gave domestic work as the reason for discontinuing education. Similarly, about 36.9 per cent of boys leave studies because they have to support their families.
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Financial constraint or non-affordability of education is still one of the major reasons for discontinuation of education in India. One-fourth of the boys have had to leave education for this reason, according to the survey. Similarly, about 17.7 per cent of girls drop out from different levels of education due to financial reasons.
Rajendra Singh, the president of Independent English Schools’ Association in Maharashtra, said parents don’t give priority to girls in education. “If there is a financial crunch, most of the time, parents give girls the second priority for education. Secondly, in rural areas, the dropout rate is high because of many other reasons,” he said. Singh said migration of the labours is one of the important reasons for children dropping out of schools. “But these things are hardly considered in such surveys,” he said.
He said introducing a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme to pay school fees could help arrest dropout cases. “This will give parents the freedom to enrol their child in a school, irrespective of whether they face a financial crunch or not.”
Singh said the dropouts will reduce substantially if the state government could spend 25 percent of its education budget on the DBT scheme.
Singh feels this will also improve the overall quality of government schools as they will have the greater responsibility of accommodating such students.