New Delhi: The dropout rate among girl students in school has seen a sharp decline in the past four years, the sharpest of which has been at the secondary level — among those aged between 11 and 14 years — reveals government data.
Two separate sets of data shared by the government in Parliament, from 2017-18 to 2020-21, reveals that fewer girls have dropped out of schools over these years.
Analysis of the data shared by the minister of state (MoS) for education, Annapurna Devi, in parliament in April this year and on Wednesday, reveals that the dropout rate of girls at the secondary level (Class 9-10) has gone down by nearly five per cent — from 18.4 per cent of girl students dropping out in 2017-18 to 13.7 per cent in 2020-21.
A similar decline — though not so sharp — has also been seen in the dropout rate of girl students at the primary (Classes 1-5) and upper primary (classes 6-8) levels. While the dropout rate has gone down from 3.3 per cent of girl students in 2017-18 to 0.7 per cent in 2020-21, at the upper primary level, the decline in dropout rate for girls has been from 5.6 per cent in 2017-18 to 2.6 per cent in 2020-21.
The data does not say anything about the dropout trend at the higher secondary level.
Interestingly, the decline in dropout has been the sharpest in the secondary level, which often sees the highest dropouts.
Various reports have cited early marriage and the burden of household chores as reasons for the higher dropout rate among girls at this age. However, the dropout rate among girls in secondary school saw a decline of nearly five per cent from 2017-18 and 2020-21.
Annapurna Devi has credited the education ministry’s Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan — a school education scheme focusing on holistic education for children — for the decline in dropout rates among girl students.
Checking dropout rate among girls
Both data seats shared by the MoS were in response to questions about the dropout rate among girl students in school and measures taken by the government to correct it.
“Under Samagra Shiksha, various facilities are being provided for promoting girls’ education. These include opening of schools in the neighbourhood as defined by the State, free uniform and text-books to girls up to Class 8, provision of gender segregated toilets in all schools, provision of self-defence training to girls from classes 6 to 8, stipend to CWSN (Children With Special Needs) girls from class 1 to Class 12, among others,” the minister said in her reply Wednesday.
She added that special state specific projects for equity such as life skills, sanitary pad vending machines and vocationalisation of secondary education have also helped achieve the goal.
She further added that the opening of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) in the educationally backward blocks — where rural female literacy rate is below the national average — has also helped improve the percentage of girls in schools.
KGBVs are residential schools offering education for those in classes 6 to 8, for girls belonging to scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, other backward classes, minority and below poverty line groups. According to government data, there are a total of 4,986 KGBVs in India, where 6.69 lakh girls are enrolled.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)