Children of scheduled caste/scheduled tribes and Muslim communities in Rajasthan are the worst affected in cases of school dropouts, a report of a joint survey by district information system for education (DISE) and independent bodies has revealed.
The survey report was presented by educationalist Ganesh Nigam at the two-day national consultation on right to education (RTE) organised jointly by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)and Ajit foundation on Saturday.
According to the report, the annual average dropout rate at primary level for the state was at 8.39% in 2013-14 and 18.50% for the Muslim community.
Similarly, the dropout rate was higher in SC and ST communities with 9.57% and 10.04% respectively.
In the upper primary level, Muslim dropouts form the highest average with 20.59% as compared to the state average of 6.03%. SC and ST communities mark steep averages of 7.51% and 7% respectively. Muslim students have the lowest transition rate (from primary to upper primary level of education) with 70.46% as compared to the state average of 88.23%. SC/ST kids have lower transition rates of 87.70% and 81.60% respectively.
“Children of SC/ST and Muslim communities have the lowest attendance in schools. Unless education is inclusive to all communities, the RTE act is nothing but a failure,” said Nigam.
“Government schools provide free education. But disdain by teachers and an inactive administration force parents to pull out their kids from schools. Economic disparity is the biggest reason behind this trend,” said Sayyed Masood Akhtar, state president, Rajasthan Madarsa Education Helpers’ Association (RMEHA).
“Access to public schools is anyway very limited to this community due to poverty but the dropouts can join madarsas,” said Saeed Ahmed, additional director, Madarsa Board.
Dalit activists, however, believe that social disparity is the reason behind the increasing dropouts among the SC/ST and Muslim sections. “Teachers have a negative mindset against the deprived sections and discourage children at the initial level. Children of Valmiki community have stopped going to school as they were asked to be manual scavengers there,” said PL Minroth, chief functionary, center for Dalit rights.
The report adds that Muslim girls constitute 22.90 % of annual average dropout rate at the upper primary level as compared to that of boys at 18.77%, citing lack of safety assurances from the government and societal bodies as the reason for this trend.
“Numerous reasons including patriarchy, lack of safety and poverty are responsible for this trend. Parents are not usually willing to send their daughters to distant schools. If more female staff are included in government schools, then we can certainly improve this figure,” said Ameen Kayamkhani, patron, RMEHA.