A Study on the Dropout Problem of Primary Education in Uttar Dinajpur District, West Bengal
14 Pages Posted: 5 May 2015
Date Written: Jan 3, 2013
The Right to Education Act came into effect on 1st April 2010 which ensures free and compulsory education to every child between the ages 6-14 years. “Free education” means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges. On the other hand, “Compulsory education” casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age groups. India is currently having 8.1 million eligible students who are either dropouts or have never gone to school. Therefore, bringing them back to school can be considered as one of the major challenges in implementing Right to Education (RTE).
The target of RTE actually follows from a global set target, namely Millennium Development Goals, which states that every child must achieve primary education by 2015. The 1990 world conference on “Education for All” was held in Thailand, where few global goals were set, including achievement of universal primary education by 2000. Again in 2000, the World Education Forum in Senegal reaffirmed and extended the Thailand commitment. Universal Primary educations along with gender parity were reaffirmed again in the Millennium Summit at New York. However the world cannot reach its goal unless all the nations proceed forward. This clarifies the prioritization and relevance of the Right to Education Act in India.
According to India’s “Education for All Middle Decade Assessment”, primary school enrolment has increased by 13.7% in between 2001-2005, which reaches close to universal enrolment in Grade I. Despite this success, 1 out of 4 children left school before reaching Grade V and almost half before reaching Grade VIII in 2005. Thus Drop-Out seems to be the major hurdles in the pace of achieving RTE.
Jayachandran (2007) has shown that there is a common tendency to show inflated enrolment rates through official statistics mainly to project a successful trend, but that ultimately leads to magnifying dropout rates. Therefore we can say that the Official Statistics of Ministry of Human Development & Resources (1997-98) always project an exaggerated number. On the other hand NSS Data depends upon household sample survey, which believes to reflect the true trend. But calculation of dropout rate through 52-Round NSS data projects a much lower trend for dropout. Surprisingly in both the cases, West Bengal captures the second highest position in the dropout statistics. According to official statistics (MHRD, 97-98) the dropout rate in West Bengal is as high as 35.8% while calculation from NSS 52 Round data shows it is 11.5%.
Uttar Dinajpur is the lowest ranking district in the state in achieving literacy rate and highest ranking state in dropout. The greatest challenge in achieving RTE in the district is to reduce its 34.75% dropout rate in primary education( Cohort Study, 2005) as well as enroll 13,477 out of school eligible children in the age group between 6 to 9 years (HHS2010 ) and 16,140 out of school children in the age group between 10 to 14 years (HHS, 2010).
The major objective of this paper is to shed some light on the issues of dropout in primary education as a specific case study on the district of Uttar Dinajpur. There are some general perceptions regarding the causes of dropout while policy prescription requires some area specific target doctrine. The socio-economic factors often remain a non quantifiable entity and exercise of econometrics fails to capture the impact of those invisible issues. But unless those problems remains identified the target of RTE would remain a delusion. I intend within my limited scope of analysis to provide some insight in those issues.
Keywords: Right to Education; Dropout; Primary Education; Uttar Dinajpur; West Bengal
JEL Classification: I, I2, I21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation