To address the school dropout problem, educational institutions need to identify the cause as early as possible. These individuals, who drop out, are clearly not lost causes, and there is immense value in identifying the causes at the grass root level because, if the cause is not treated at the grass root level, then it cannot be treated at all.
The Union budget speech recognized the need to measure learning outcomes in schools. An amendment was added to the Right To Education(RTE) Act states that a child cannot be expelled or detained until the completion of elementary education – i.e., until class VIII.
The dropout rate peaks at the secondary level (class IX-X) at 17%, as compared to 4% in elementary school (class I-VIII) and 2% in upper secondary school (class XI-XII). This is also reflected in the transition rates in school education where the lowest transition rate is at the secondary level (from class X to class XI) at 69%. Once children are enrolled, transition rates indicate whether they are able to advance to higher classes. A transition rate below 100% indicates that the students are held back or have dropped out of school.
Speaking of Education, the one area of concern always remain ‘rural’ education. Around 68.84% people in India live in the ‘rural’ section of the society and as a result, ‘rural’ education always remains as the area of concern. The drop out rate is more in the ‘rural’ section than the ‘urban’ section. Few reasons behind this would be:
- Quality and access to education is the major concern in rural schools as there are fewer committed teachers, lack of proper textbooks and learning material in the schools.
- Every village is not provided with a school which means that students have to go to another village to get an education. Owing to this parents usually do not send their daughters to school, leading to a failure in achieving the rural education in India.
- Most textbooks are in English and since people in rural areas either speak their native language or Hindi, but not English that defeats the purpose. This results in lack of their interest in studies.
- Students are not at all encouraged to think but they are asked to memorize pre-defined questions for exams. So for many students clearing examination at the end of the session, passing their exam becomes more important than gaining knowledge.
- Government schools are not as good and private schools are expensive. This results in a very low number of students actually clearing their secondary education and taking admission in a college for further studies. So the drop-out-rate at the secondary level is extremely high in villages.
The ultimate reason behind the Drop out rate is the Indian Education System. The actual quantity of schooling that children experience and the quality of teaching they receive are extremely insufficient in most government schools, be it rural or urban. A common feature in all government schools is the poor quality of education, with weak infrastructure and inadequate pedagogic attention.
The government is failing to realize that education which is a source of human capital can create wide income inequalities. The same group of people, who have received the same degree might have a comparative advantage over each other based on the educational background. There forms a massive income inequality. Let us understand this with the help of an example:
Let John be an individual who has had no primary or higher education. His human capital is zero and hence it bears no returns. Let Ramesh be an individual who completed his MBA from S.P Jain college and let Akbar be an individual who completed his MBA from IIM Calcutta. The average rate of return for an MBA student is 7.5% (hypothetical). Ramesh gets a rate of return of 5% and Akbar gets a rate of return of 10% due to the difference in the reputation and quality of the management school. Let the income of John, Ramesh, and Akbar be 1. In a period of 10 years, John will be having the same income, as he does not possess human capital. For the same time period, Ramesh will earn an income of (1+0.05)^10=1.63 and Akbar will earn an income of (1+0.10)^10=2.59. Now let us see what happens when the rate of return on human capital doubles. Earnings of John will not change since he does not have any human capital. Now, Ramesh is going to earn (1+0.10)^10=1.63, and Akbar is going to earn (1+0.20)^10=6.19. Flabbergasting! As soon as return on human capital increases, income inequality increases proportionately. With the return on human capital doubling, Ramesh’s income increases by 59% and Akbar’s income increases by 139%.
The above example just shows the effect of the quality of human capital n income inequality. So if the government does not improve education system particularly in rural areas the rich will become richer and the poor will get poorer.
According to NSSO data (71st round) on reasons for dropping out (for the 5-29 age group), the key reasons for female students dropping out is due to domestic activities, lack of interest in education and marriage. On the other hand, the key reasons for male students dropping out are economic activities, lack of interest in education and financial constraints.
The only way to counter the problem that leads to such Income Inequality and the rate of Drop out is to solve the problem at the grassroots level. And the problem is our Education System. Hence, it is imperative for the government to correct the blemishes in India’s education system which will also be a step towards reducing income inequality and thus, reducing the drop out rate among the students of India.