At least 48 of every 100 students in India pursuing secondary education never go beyond that level, the World Bank said on Tuesday, pointing out that the country was doing worse than Vietnam and Bangladesh in enrolling students in secondary education.
"Thirty seven percent students fail before the final examination and 11 percent drop out during the period (class 9-12)," the World Bank study released said.
It said with "larger numbers of India's children now finishing primary school, the demand for secondary schooling - Grades 9 to 12 - is growing. Over the next decade, the number of secondary school students is expected to increase from 40 to 60 million".
"An increasing share of these students will come from rural and lower income groups, who will be less able to afford private secondary education," the bank said.
The challenge now for the government is to dramatically improve access, enrolment and quality in secondary education, simultaneously.
The bank said that in India, the maximum job growth in recent years has taken place in the skilled services and manufacturing sectors. The country, therefore, needs to provide the 12 million young people who join the labour force every year with the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiences to enable them to access these better-paying jobs.
The World Bank said that India, however, does not compare favourably with its global competitors in terms of the overall educational attainments of its people.
"Even countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh, which have lower per capita incomes than India, have higher gross enrolment rates (GER) in secondary schools. India's GER in secondary school is 40 percent compared to 70 percent in East Asia and 82 percent in Latin America."
It said 40 million children were enrolled in secondary schools in 2008. The majority of them were boys, children from the urban areas, and those who belonged to the wealthier segments of the population. Enrolment varies greatly between states, from 92 percent in Kerala, 44 percent in Tamil Nadu, 22 percent in Bihar to four percent in Jharkhand.
The bank said 60 percent of the secondary school system is privately managed. While private unaided schools provide 30 percent of total secondary enrolment nationwide (2004-05), up from 15 percent in 1993-94.
"Their dramatic growth reveals the demand for secondary schooling and the willingness and capacity of households to pay for it. This however leads to the increasing inequality as poorer households cannot afford to pay both the direct and opportunity costs of their children's secondary education," the study added.