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How High Are Dropout Rates in India?

How High Are Dropout Rates in India?

Discussion

“Child not interested in studies” accounts for the highest proportion of dropouts in

How High Are

rural (37 per cent) and urban (37 per cent) areas and for both male and female children. “Parents not interested in studies”

Dropout Rates in India?

T
affect the female child more in rural (17 per cent) and urban (11 per cent) areas. In-USHA JAYACHANDRAN up to standard V once they have been ability to cope with the demands of schoolenrolled. ing has a somewhat equal effect on boys his is a comment on the paper by Amit and girls in rural (11 per cent) and urban Choudhury published in EPW Reasons for Dropout (13 per cent) areas and is one of the (December 23, 2006) titled ‘Revisiting important reasons for dropping out. A Dropouts: Old Issues, Fresh Perspectives’. NSS data from the 52nd round also larger proportion of female children in How high is the dropout rate in India provides information on the reasons for urban areas (5.6 per cent) drop out because actually? The dropout rates estimated from dropping out. Table 2 presents reasons of the need to work for wages/salaries to official statistics are calculated as the ratio given by parents for children in the 5-14 supplement the family income. Similarly, of enrolment in (say) class V to enrolment age group for dropping out of school. a higher proportion of male children in class I. Such an estimate of dropout rates

Table 1 : Dropout Rates at the Primary Level

could be misleading given that official (Per cent)enrolment statistics are known to be highly

State Official Statistics of From NSS 52nd Round

unreliable. Further, there is some evidence

Dropout Rates Rural Dropout Urban Dropoutthat class I enrolment is often inflated, Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female and this has the effect of magnifying the

1 India 25.6 26 25.8 6.6 7.3 6.9 4.4 4.4 4.2 dropout rate estimates based on official 2 Andhra Pradesh 27.4 27.2 27.3 10.8 10.5 10.6 4.4 4.9 4.0 3 Arunachal Pradesh 23.4 23.3 23.4 7.5 8.9 8.2 3.1 2.5 4.0

enrolment data.1

4 Assam 23.6 24.7 24.1 6.2 6.6 6.4 5.5 5.6 5.3 5 Bihar 25.9 26 25.9 3.8 4.1 4.0 4.5 4.0 5.1 6 Goa 22.5 22.3 22.4 0.0 4.1 2.1 1.2 0.0 2.6 Dropout Rates 7 Gujarat 18.8 17.2 18.1 10.5 9.9 10.2 4.9 5.1 4.5 8 Haryana 22.1 19.1 20.7 5.4 4.1 5.8 6.2 5.8 6.5 9 Himachal Pradesh 28.1 22 25.2 3.8 3.2 3.5 2.8 3.1 2.4

A more reliable way of calculating the 10 Jammu and dropout rate would be to look at the Kashmir 27 29.2 27.9 4.0 5.4 4.6 3.8 3.8 3.6 11 Karnataka 20.8 21.5 21.5 7.9 8.8 8.3 3.1 3.1 3.0 proportion of ever-enrolled children in the 12 Kerala 18.5 19.7 19.1 1.3 1.0 1.2 1.2 1.0 1.3 15-19 age group who have not completed 13 Madhya Pradesh 19.3 18.1 18.8 6.9 9.4 7.9 4.0 4.4 3.6 14 Maharashtra 19.6 19.9 19.7 5.8 6.9 6.3 2.9 3.3 3.5 their primary level of education. This can 15 Manipur 19.6 20.2 19.9 4.6 11.2 7.7 0.5 0.0 1.3 16 Meghalaya 30.6 30.9 30.7 9.8 6.3 8.2 2.6 1.5 4.0

be done using household level data from

17 Mizoram 25.9 26.6 26.2 4.4 6.6 5.3 1.8 2.7 0.8 the 52nd round of the National Sample 18 Nagaland 23.4 25.9 24.6 4.2 3.4 3.8 0.7 1.2 0.0 19 Orissa 22.8 25.7 24 7.8 12.7 10.1 8.2 6.5 10.0

Survey, which provides data on partici

20 Punjab 19.3 18.1 18.7 3.8 7.5 5.4 2.8 3.3 1.9 pation in education. Dropout rates calcu-21 Rajasthan 32.7 34.8 33.5 5.2 6.9 5.9 4.7 4.8 4.5 22 Sikkim 25.1 27.5 26.3 15.2 8.6 11.8 6.3 2.7 9.5

lated in this manner turn out to be much

23 Tamil Nadu 19.3 18 18.7 8.8 11.1 10.0 7.0 6.7 7.3 lower than those based on ministry of 24 Tripura 22 22.1 22.1 9.5 13.4 11.3 2.1 1.1 3.2

25 Uttar Pradesh 38.8 42.9 40.4 5.1 4.0 4.6 4.0 4.1 3.9 human resource development (MHRD) 26 West Bengal 35.8 41.3 38.4 11.5 11.1 11.3 7.6 8.0 7.1 statistics. For instance, while the official 31 Delhi 14 14.2 14.1 6.5 0.0 3.4 2.0 3.4 0.5

estimate of the all-India dropout rate in Note: The NSS-based estimates in the second panel have been calculated by the author. In thesecalculations the dropout rate is simply the proportion of ever enrolled 15-19 year olds who have

1997-98 is as high as 26 per cent

not completed their primary level of education.[MHRD 1997-98], our own calculations Source: Official estimates (based on school enrolment data) are from Selected Educational Statistics, 1997-98, MHRD; VI All-India Educational Survey, NCERT, State Directorates of Education,

show it to be much lower at approximately

1997-98.

6.6 per cent for rural areas and 4.4 per cent Table 2: Reasons for Dropout among Children Aged 5-14 Yearsfor urban India (Table 1). Amongst the (Per cent) major states, only three (Andhra Pradesh, Rural Urban Gujarat and West Bengal) have dropout Total Male Female Total Male Female rates in excess of 10 per cent in rural areas.

1 Child not interested in studies 37.2 33.1 31.3 37.4 38.0 36.6 In urban areas, the dropout rates are even 2 Parents not interested in studies 12.5 7.8 17.4 8.8 6.9 11.0 3 Unable to cope 16.4 1.7 8.1 13.7 13.0 14.5lower, below 5 per cent in a majority of 4 To work for wage/salary 2.5 1.0 1.0 4.6 5.6 3.3 cases. NSS-based estimates, therefore, 5 Participation in other economic activities 6.1 7.2 5.0 5.3 7.6 2.7 6 Attend to domestic duties 3.7 0.8 6.7 3.9 1.8 6.3 suggest that the dropout rates in India are 7 Financial constraints 11.2 12.0 10.4 15.8 15.7 16.0 8 Other reasons 7.9 0.9 9.8 7.4 8.7 6.0

much lower than the common belief that most children do remain in schools at least Source: Author’s calculations from NSS 52nd round data.

Economic and Political Weekly March 17, 2007

vis-à-vis female children drop out to participate in other economic activities in rural

(7.2 per cent) and urban (7.6 per cent) areas. A higher proportion of female children dropout to tend to domestic duties as compared to male children in rural (6.7 per cent) and urban (6.3 per cent) areas. And finally, financial constraints are seen to affect dropout relatively more in urban areas (16 per cent) as compared to rural areas (11.2 per cent).

It is interesting to note from Table 2 that insofar as there is a problem of a lack of interest in education, it is mainly a lack of interest from the part of the child and not from their parents. Prior to the 52nd round, the NSS questionnaire did not distinguish between

Table 3: Percentage of Out-of-School Children (Currently Not Attending School) 5-14 Years

(Per cent)

Out-of-Dropout Never School (Enrolled, but Enrolled Children Currently Not(5-14 Attending School) Years) Both Male Female Both Male Female

Rural 17.6 19.2 16.5 82.3 80.8 83.5 Urban 39.3 42.3 36.6 60.1 57.7 63.4

Source : Author’s calculations from NSS 52nd round data.

the two, and both were combined as “not interested in studies” (without specifying) in the list of possible responses to the question on reasons for dropping out. The responses suggested that lack of interest in education was the major reason for dropping out, and this has often been interpreted as evidence of lack of parental interest in education [Pradhan and Subramanian 2000]. Data from the 52nd round suggests that the real problem is lack of interest on the part of the child. The latter is likely to reflect the dull or even hostile environment in the classroom, and points to a problem with the schooling system rather than with the parents, contrary to the earlier interpretation. Choudhary in his article also finds “interest in studies” as an important predictor for dropout.

Out-of-School Children

Finally, it is interesting to look at the composition of out-of-school children in the 5-14 age group, in terms of the proportions who are “never enrolled” and “enrolled but currently not attending school (dropouts)” respectively. If dropout rates are actually quite low, as argued above, the possibility arises that a substantial proportion of out-of-school children are “never enrolled” rather than dropouts, contrary to what is often assumed. This possibility is corroborated by the 52nd round NSS data, as Table 3 indicates. The proportion of “never enrolled” children among out-of-school children (5-14 years) is as high as 82 per cent in rural areas and 60 per cent in urban areas. Thus, the main challenge of universal elementary education appears to be to ensure that every child is enrolled in school at an early age. “Retention” may be less of a problem than has been thought so far.

EPW

Email: ujc@satyam.net.in

Note

1 For further discussions see Public Report onBasic Education in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999, p 91.

References

Pradhan, B K and A Subramanian (2000): ‘Education, Openness and the Poor’, Discussion Paper 14, NCAER, New Delhi.

MHRD (1997-98): ‘Sixth All-India EducationalSurvey’, Selected Educational Statistics 199798, MHRD; NCERT, State Directorates of Education, 1997-98.

Economic and Political Weekly March 17, 2007

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