PUNE: Despite several ambitious plans and projects by the State government in the education sector, the increase in dropout rate in rural areas of Maharashtra is still a cause of concern.
The recently released Economic Survey of the State for year 2017-18 highlights that around 68 per cent students in the State are out-of-school, especially in the rural areas.
According to data available of Pune district, Zilla Parishad (ZP) schools, in 2012-13, around 2,46,765 students had enrolled and in 2013-2014, the number of students dropped by 7,235 to 2,39,530. In 2014-15, the number further reduced to 2,34,596 with a difference of 4,934 students.
In 2015-16, the number of dropout students was 326, comparatively less than the previous year.
However, in 2016-17, the number of enrolments escalated to 556 students, which was the only year that showed a growth in admission. But the number again declined in 2017-18 by 1,078 students, with only 2,33,747 children enrolled in ZP school.
“The number of dropouts mentioned in the survey accounts for only one per cent of the actual number of out-of-school children. The government’s census does not have a record of children of migratory occupation parents like sugarcane workers, stone quarry, construction workers, etc,” said Advocate Bastu Rege, founder of Santulan Sanstha.
“Earlier, these children’s education was covered under innovative schools run by NGOs like School at Site, Door Step School, Sakhar Shala, Pashan Shala. However, after Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, was introduced, the government asked to shut down aforesaid informal schools. Therefore, these children have lost this source of education and whether they are covered under RTE in private or government schools is questionable. The government failed to provide any kind of alternative to them,” added Rege.
“The year-wise statistics show that there is a low dropout rate in the primary education, but overall dropout rate in last five years has been over 13,000 students and the number is of serious concern. In the recently presented State budget, there was no special allocation or initiative by the government to save the poor children from not attending school,” said Nihal Kirnalli, an educationist.
“Primary education is the basic right of a child but the government favouring the private schools is seriously affecting the quality of the ZP schools resulting in such outcomes. The decision of closing thousands of schools is also interrelated with the increase in the rate of non-attendance of students,” added Kirnalli.
While the recent Maharashtra budget session was lacking concrete allocation for improvement of quality in education, the educationists have stated that dilemma of having few quality schools or all quality school is nothing but subtle change to the privatisation of the education in the State.
THE SURVEY RESULTS
The survey stated that according to RTE, efforts are being made to bring every out of school child in the age group of 6-14 years in the educational stream but the State has miserably failed to fulfil the purpose and there are still hundreds of children who are out of school or outside the formal education. Hence, it is necessary to search and identify out of school children, enrol them in school and then impart them education. During the year 2017-18 till December 2017, as many as 48,379 children were out of school. Special training for 36,185 children was proposed, of which only 15,529 were enrolled and efforts are being made to enrol the remaining.