By Abhishek Jha:
In an answer to a question in the Rajya Sabha on the 10th of December, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has tabled startling statistics about the dropout rate of OBC girls in the state of Odisha.
With regards to enrolment of girls at various levels of education, the MHRD statistics showed a marginal decline in the enrolment of girls at the primary level (from 6.52 crore in 2012-2013 to 6.38 crore in 2013-2014). However, the enrolment of girls at the secondary and higher secondary level has seen slight improvement. The enrolment at the secondary level increased from 1.63 crore in 2012-2013 to 1.76 crore in 2013-2014 and enrolment at the higher secondary level “increased from 0.93 crore to 1.05 crore during the same period”, according to the Ministry.
The Ministry also informed the House the dropout rates of SC/ST and OBC girls. Dropout rate of girls belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC) are 5.0% and 6.1% and for girls belonging to Scheduled Tribe (ST) are 8.9% and 8.5% respectively at the primary level during 2012-13 and 2013-14.
The annual average dropout rate of girls belonging to SC and ST at the secondary level is 18.32% and 26.96% during 2013-14. At the higher secondary level, the annual average dropout rate of girls belonging to SC and ST is 1.38% and 2.77%.
However, it is the state-wise data furnished for OBC girls, acquired by the Ministry through the Unified Information System for Education (UDISE), that might raise some eyebrows. The dropout rate of OBC girls in Odisha for 2012-2013 is 49.62% and 49.57% for 2013-2014. This is the highest dropout rate at any level in any state for the period mentioned. It is surprising since the dropout rate at the primary level in Odisha is much lower as compared to other states. Other states with high dropout rates of OBC girls at the secondary level are Nagaland, Assam, Bihar, and Karnataka. Nagaland, Assam, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir are often in the top ten states with highest such dropout rates across all levels.
The alarmingly high numbers for Odisha could be a result of the fact that the Right to Education Act provides free and compulsory education only for children from 6 to 14 years of age. This is reflected in the data provided too; that shows that the dropout rates at the secondary level are significantly higher than those for primary level across most states.
This particularly high percentage for Odisha is something that the state needs to look into. A November 2014 issue of Odisha Review, a magazine published by the Department of Information and Public Relations of the Government of Odisha, does offer some insight into the reasons for the dropout of girls and ST girls in particular. While it is usually gender-bias or financial problems that are identified as reasons for dropout of girls, the ‘major reason for school dropouts among tribal communities’ is identified as ‘non-availability of books and teachers in their language.’ However, any such information for OBC students or girls is not available.
|State/UTs||Primary Level||Secondary||Hr. Secondary|
|Dadar & Nagar Haveli||2.70||–||0.47||22.00||26.83||4.81||5.33|
|Daman & Diu||2.42||1.58||–||12.25||20.33||–||4.89|
|Jammu & Kashmir||11.47||8.38||5.75||17.96||16.14||9.36||6.2|
*Annual Average Dropout rate at secondary & Senior Secondary level during 2011-12 is not available in UDISE.
** Data not Available
Source: Answer to Unstarred Question 1353, answered on 10th December, 2015 in the Rajya Sabha