Although, more children between 6 and 14 years of age are going to school in rural Maharashtra after the implementation of the Right to Education Act, percentage of 15 to 16 year olds not enrolled in schools has increased over the past two years, revealed the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014.
The report brought out by the non-government organisation Pratham was released on Tuesday in Delhi.
More boys than girls in that age seem to have dropped out of school since last year. Percentage of 15-16 year old boys not in school has increased to 9.1% in 2014, from 7.8% in 2013 and 2012.
The trend has echoed nationally as well, with 15.9% of boys and 17.3% of girls in this age group currently out of school, found the report.
Educationists attributed the trend to dearth of schools offering classes above Class 8.
“In rural areas, there are still not enough schools beyond Class 8,” said Farida Lambay, co-founder of Pratham. “So students end up dropping out and choose to work.”
Students above 14 years are being neglected because they are not covered under the RTE act, said others.
“Since RTE states that education is the fundamental right of children between 6 and 14 years, older children are being neglected,” added Farida.
Another interesting trend is that though private school enrolments have increased in most states, in Maharashtra and few other states, it has slipped down for children in Classes 6 to 8.
“This is an interesting phenomenon and it could be because the private schools are charging high fees,” Madhav Chavan, founder, Pratham.
The report also did not show much improvement in reading levels of students compared to previous years, while the arithmetic levels have actually worsened over the years.
“The government needs to focus on improving the learning levels in a sustained manner,” said Chavan.