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Fresh dropout survey mooted

NOTWITHSTANDING REPORTS of declining dropout rate following introduction of midday meal scheme in primary schools, girls continue to drop out in large numbers and the State Government proposes to get a fresh survey conducted to find district-wise break-up of dropout rates in primary schools and junior high schools all over Uttar Pradesh. A decision about conducting the fresh survey was taken at a meeting of the Research Approval Committee last month.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2006 01:42 IST

NOTWITHSTANDING REPORTS of declining dropout rate following introduction of midday meal scheme in primary schools, girls continue to drop out in large numbers and the State Government proposes to get a fresh survey conducted to find district-wise break-up of dropout rates in primary schools and junior high schools all over Uttar Pradesh.

A decision about conducting the fresh survey was taken at a meeting of the Research Approval Committee last month.

The State Government’s decision comes close on the heels of observations made by a Joint Review Mission (JRM) team that said “girls continue to drop out in large numbers after grade 5, as parents are not willing to send their girls to far off schools.” A JRM team comprising Ruma Banerjee (Government of India) and Venita Kaul (World Bank) had conducted the sample study of implementation of the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan in Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar districts from January 13 to 20, 2006.

Significantly, the JRM team observed that midday meal along with distribution of free textbooks and uniforms was contributing to increased enrolment and attendance in schools.

“The cooked midday meal (being implemented across the state) along with free uniforms and text books have contributed significantly to both enrolment and attendance in schools where children stay for full day now,” said the JRM team adding that “facilities created and incentives offered have given a certain momentum to demand for education in the community.

There is now a demand for an upper primary school (junior high school) closer to the habitations.”

According to sources, the demand has obviously been made to check large dropout rate of girls.

The JRM team also observed that the State Government’s proposal to revise the norm for setting up upper primary schools within 2 kms may address this problem to a certain extent.

The State Government may also initiate a number of other measures to check dropout rate once findings of new survey are available. As per reports, the new survey, to commence next month, is likely to be completed by end of 2006.

This is for the first time in recent years that district-wise data of dropout rates is being collected to workout separate strategies for districts where dropout rate may be higher.

This comes at a point when claims of 50 lakh new student admissions in government-run schools are being made.

As the State Government proposes to set up 4,700 new schools, including 2,400 primary schools and 2,300 junior high schools in 2006-2007, total number of induction in schools may go up in the next academic session.

If reports emanating from various districts are taken to be true a large chunk of students are dropping out of schools. Officials, however, assert that dropout rate has come down from 40 per cent to 24 per cent in past three years in the state.

A sum of Rs 920 crore has been allocated in the budget of 2006-2007 to run various schemes under Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan.

Besides collecting number of dropout students the State Government also proposes to get information about various factors that may have led to higher dropout rate in different districts.

Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan Additional Director Parthasarthi Sen Sharma said the survey to ascertain district-wise dropout rate was one of the most ambitious schemes that would help the State government in further bringing down the dropout rate and achieving the objectives of universalisation of education.

So far, only comprehensive data of dropout rate was available with the State government and no authentic district-wise data was available, he said.

First Published: Feb 23, 2006 01:42 IST