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India adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of UN in 2015. Goal 4 of the SDG is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunity for all. This entails completion of primary and secondary education of every child in the country. Though the government of India achieved universal enrollment at primary level, the enrollment of students in subsequent grades falls continuously from there on. According to the ministry of human resource development (MHRD), 62.1 million children are out of school in India. One the prevalent measurements of enrollment is Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) which is calculated as percentage of number of total number of students enrolled in a level of education divided by the total population of children in that age group. The GER of 100% in the primary level comes down to 91.2% in upper primary, 78.5% in the secondary education, 54.2% in senior secondary education.The GER of India is less the that of developing countries like China, Thailand, Brazil, etc at all the levels of education except the primary level. One of the many reasons for low GER is exclusion of weaker and marginalized groups of children like religious minorities, Scheduled Castes(ST), Scheduled Tribes(ST), disabled children, girls, etc from schooling. A study of out-of-school children by centre for policy research points out social and gender discrimination as the cause of non-enrollment or drop-out of many marginalized students.

Lower enrollment levels in higher levels could be because of retention, non-enrollment and premature withdrawal from current grade. The government of India provides free and compulsory education for all the children of 6-14 age group according to Right to Education act 2010. Section 16 of the act also specifies that no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education. These laws make sure that child completes education without detention. But, when the child reaches secondary education, RTE act does not apply on the child and is unable to cope up with the sudden importance of test scores leading to retention of the child in the current class. Nearly 18% of students drops out in the secondary education which is highest drop out rate at any level of education. It’s not just the test scores, children of higher levels face newer challenges in households and society like earning responsibility on the male children and burden of domestic chores on the female children.

There are no common reasons for the dropouts across the country. They vary widely depending on the socio-economic and occasional political conditions in a particular region. However, accessibility and social dogma can be cited major reasons for the persistence of low enrollment rates and high drop-out rates in the country. National Sample Survey Office published reasons for drop-out for people aged 5-29 in 2014. Around 6% of students drop-out because of lack of availability of schools in their vicinity. The number of private schools in India grew 35% from 220,000 in 2010-11 to 300,000 in 2015-16 and the number of government schools grew just 1%, from 1.03 million to 1.04 million according to Geeta Gandhi Kingdon’s research. Clearly, there is a need for government to build more schools in remote areas and encourage private schools to expand from urban targeted schools to rural targeted schools.

Another reason why drop-out rates rise in secondary education is that it is the age when a considerable number of students are inducted into child labor. There are an average of one in 11 children working as child labor. Although Articles 24 and 39 of the constitution and Child Labour Act 1986 prohibits using children in labor work, parents of the children send their children for work at an early age to supplement their family income. The government should adopt hard stance against anyone employing children in labour in hazardous conditions. But, stringent labour laws can make parents keep children completely out of school without a chance of re-entry into schooling. Looking at the vitality of the child’s support for the families and unfortunate truth of majority of parents depending on daily wages, government can allow for flexible school hours, possible direct entry into the droped out class and liberal child labour laws on family enterprises. Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016 was aimed at these issues and it widened the scope of the law against child labour and stricter punishments for violations.

One of the major concerns of India going into the next decade is inclusion of women in workforce. Education of girl students and keeping them in the schooling becomes a crucial part of the effort. According to Annual Survey of Education Report (Aser) 2017 32% girls are not enrolled in schools compared to 28% boys under RTE Act and over 33% drop out at secondary level. There are many reasons for high drop-out rate among girl students like early marriage, domestic chores, health concerns, lack of safety in schools, preference of boys over girls for education investment among parents, etc. Social dogmas of a girl child being liability of a family still prevail in major parts of the country. Schools specific to girls should be expanded all over the country with better accessibility, proper clean toilets and female teachers as role models. Individual and community sensitization of health issues related to girls should be done aggressively along with provision of sanitary pads in schools and women empowerment lessons in the curriculum. The leadership curriculum program by civil society in Uttar Pradesh , that has one of the lowest female literacy levels, was successful in training girls in effectively fighting gender stereotypes Over 50% of girls sexually harassed on way to school according to breakthrough NGO survey. Free cycles provided to girls in Andhra Pradesh might help parents to send their children to schools far away from their villages. As per ASER (Rural), 2016, 68.7 % of schools visited had toilet facilities that were usable on the day of the visit as compared to 47.2 % in 2010 and 3.5 % of the schools had no such facilities. Functional toilets are imperative in making girl students feel safe. In case of health and adolescence issues, states can adopt Kerala's scheme of She-Pad that provides free sanitary pads in government schools. Model schools and Kasturab Gandhi Balika Vidyala (KGBV) schools should be expanded to provide safer residential schools. Early marriage was effectively handled in West Bengal by Kanyashree Prakalpa, a conditional cash-transfer scheme. Nearly 14% of minor marriages were recorded in the last decade.

Early stages of children should be observed carefully and schools should make sure that children got into the habit learning for an holistic development in the future classes. Deep rooted social norms and convictions are hard to change through direct action. This is where public policy can step in by incentivising parents and children with direct benefit transfers and scholarships for weaker section students and female students to continue education and stay unmarried by gradual increase in the amount with the increase in age like in West Bengal and even in Bangladesh. The government can also adopt flexible school hours, provide better safe transport and residence, provide better job opportunities for weaker section students. The government should increase the free and compulsory education age to 18 for weaker section students. Only 5% of students of 0-18 age undergo some sort of vocational training. Parents will be enthused to send their children regularly to school without fail if they feel that their children will be better skilled and earn higher income. Section 12(1)(c) of RTE act that is reservations in private schools can be utilized better by weaker section students with less certification, better grievance redressal system, accessibility, and awareness among parents and children. There should be greater investment in the capacity building of teachers and new age pedagogy to able to address the students of diverse social backgrounds. Many children in the country are first generation literates in their families. It is an uphill task for the government to educate all those children without parental care and rising young population provides more challenges than opportunities in India's rise as a global power.


1. Sustainable Development Goals, Niti Aayog


2. Education Statistics At Glance, Ministry of Human Resource Development, 2016


3. Demand for Grants 2017-18, Niveditha Rao, PRS legislative research, 2017


4. Overview of school education, Niveditha Rao, PRS legislative research, 2017


5. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, the private schooling phenomenon in india: a review, March 2017


6. Flawed Child Labour Law Amendment, Komal Ganotra, Economic and Political Weekly, Aug 2016


7. The Child Labour Amendment Bill, 2016, Lok Sabha

8. ASER, Annual Status of Education Report 2017, Jan 16, 2018


9. The high dropout rate of girls in India, Anjela Taneja, Jan 30, 2018


10. Himanshi Dhawan , Study: 50% of girls sexually harassed on way to school , The Times of India,Feb 2016


11. Useable Toilet Facilities in Schools, Press Information Bureau, March 2017


12. Progess, one girl at a time, Shiv Sahay Singh, Indrani Dutta, The Hindu, Aug 2017


13. Whither female disadvantage? an analysis of private school enrollment in India, Sarmistha Pal, Anurag Sharma, Pushkar Maitha, Ideas for India, Oct 2016


14. In a first, Kerala to offer free sanitary napkins in 300 govt schools, LiveMint, Nov 2017


Image Reference

The Frightening Gap Between Private & Government Run Schools, Prachi Salve, india speed, 21 Jan 2014



Karnataka government schools struggle with poor facilities, unskilled teachers and high dropout rate...

Read more at: http://www.indialivetoday.com/karnataka-government-schools-struggle-with-poor-facilities-unskilled-teachers-and-high-dropout-rates/8005.html

Karnataka government schools struggle with poor facilities, unskilled teachers and high dropout rate...

Read more at: http://www.indialivetoday.com/karnataka-government-schools-struggle-with-poor-facilities-unskilled-teachers-and-high-dropout-rates/8005.html
Karnataka government schools struggle with poor facilities, unskilled teachers and high dropout rate...

Read more at: http://www.indialivetoday.com/karnataka-government-schools-struggle-with-poor-facilities-unskilled-teachers-and-high-dropout-rates/8005.html

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Written By Chanakya Yadav

Bachelors student in Materials Engineering, IIT Madras.

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