Innovative Approach Needed to Retain Children in Schoolsby Opinion Express August 8, 2018 0 comments
Game-changing initiatives will not only attract children to schools but also help retain them.
With more than 1.5 million schools spread across the country, India has one of the most diverse and complex educational systems in the world that is besieged by myriad problems. Though strides have been made since 1947, a particularly persistent issue has been with enrolment and getting kids to stay the whole distance in school. That’s where of late many governments and school administrations have shown the way by adopting innovative models to reach out to children. One such example has been set by a school in Telangana, which has modeled its infrastructure for the classrooms to look like a train which has stopped at a railway station. The programme, titled, ‘Telangana Express’, a CSR initiative, has been a hit in the State as it has already made a huge difference in preventing kids from dropping out. There is pressure on parents not to pull them out from the kids themselves who love going to their ‘train school’. Pockets of innovation have also sprouted in other States. Many schools have opted for a holistic approach by making their classrooms in an environment-friendly ambience with a flexible schedule. No more are Indian schools only a place for learning by rote. Slowly but steadily, focus on the judicious use of technology in pedagogy is increasing.
Yet, the data captures some troubling trends with respect to school enrolment, drop-out rates and transition rates in education. According to latest ASER report, India has seen high enrolment rates of over 96 per cent in the past eight years at the primary-school level. This means that there has been a substantial increase in the number of children who would presumably at least acquired basic reading and writing skills. This would not have been possible without effective implementation of the RTE Act that provides for free and compulsory education for children till Class VIII and credit must be given to successive governments at the Centre and in the States. But beyond this stage, the trouble starts. The same ASER report pointed out that at the secondary level (after Class VIII), there has been an increasing trend of drop-outs. This means that enrolment in schools does not necessarily translate into attendance and transiting to a school-leaving degree. Worryingly, a large number of students drop out after reaching adolescence due to family economic hardship, lack of interest, lack of proximity to the school, lack of proper training for teachers and infrastructural facilities among others. In many States, unfortunately, girls are still more likely to dropout of school than boys given our societal structures and the ‘role of women’ thrust upon them in the main.
Policy interventions on the part of Government have helped, of course. Take for example the case of Bihar where schools gave bicycles to female students to reduce dropout rates at the secondary and higher secondary levels. The mid-day meal scheme is yet another incentive that has helped in the enrolment of children but shabby implementation has meant that retentions rates have not match enrolment rates. Schools have to welcome innovation to both attract and retain students. To do that, we need to provide both private funds through CSR and public funds through the exchequer. We can make a start by allocating six per cent of GDP to education. But is anybody listening?
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer