The number of school dropouts in rural India has started declining. Much to the delight of policy-makers, the stress on education is finally paying dividends with school attendance steadily rising as seen by the significant decline in the number of school dropouts from 1999-2000 to 2004-05.
What is more, the increase has been faster in rural areas than in the urban areas. Compared to 885 per 1000 youngsters in the 5 to 14 age group in the urban areas who were regular school-goers in 2004-05, the rural areas reported an attendance of 803 per 1000 youngsters, up from 692 per 1000 youngsters in 1999-2000, according to a recent NSSO survey.
Stagnation in the country's agricultural growth - and subsequently job opportunities in the agrarian sector - is being attributed by experts for the stress being laid on education in towns and villages.
Attendance rate in educational institutions among children and the youth is an important social indicator for assessing the status of progress of any particular group of people.
Current attendance rate in educational institutions for different social and age groups has been defined as the number of persons currently attending educational institutions per 1000 persons of the respective social group and age group.
Compared to households belonging to the scheduled categories, the current rate in educational institutions was much higher among the urban male youth of 20-24 years for which the rate was highest among STs (32 per cent) followed by others (28 per cent).