A report from UDISE+ 2021-2022 reveals that Arunachal Pradesh has the highest number of dropouts in the country, whereas the rate is much higher for girls than boys. According to the ASER 2022-Rural report, government school children in standard III who can read standard II-level text in 2018 were 4.8% and 3.5% in 2022. Also, government school children in standard V who could do division in 2018 were 22.1% and 19.5% in 2022. In August 2021, the Union Education Minister said that around 15 crore children are currently out of the education system. Moreover, in 2021, according to the National Right to Education Forum’s policy brief, 1 crore girls are at risk of dropping out, and a study by ChildFund India reveals that 64% of the children expressed that they may drop out if not provided additional educational support.
According to various studies, the reasons for dropout in India include poverty, lack of access to quality education, inadequate school infrastructure and resources, social and cultural norms, child labour, early marriage and gender inequality. But, surprisingly, according to the findings of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5, conducted in 2019-21 among children aged 6-17, the most common reason reported for children dropping out is “not interested in studies,” whereas boys showed a higher tendency than girls. According to experts responses on “not interested in studies,” generally, after failing a class or two, the child loses interest in studies. Most of the time, these children are from extremely poor families where unemployment has pushed the parents to prioritise survival over their children’s education.
In one of the journals published in JMME by Z. Farooqui, the data on the dropout rate of Arunachal Pradesh (2019-20) in Primary (Class 1-5), Upper Primary (Class 6-8), and Secondary (class 9-12) levels are 6.2%, 7.5%, and 34.3%, respectively.
Now, to understand why upper level has a higher dropout rate as compared to lower level, we have to know the psychological growth and development of a child. According to Erickson’s theory, at the age of 3-6, where children develop the instincts of good and bad, they also develop the habit of self-evaluation if properly guided. At the age of 6-12, when a child learns various skills, the school becomes the place where success and failure are defined. And Piaget’s intellectual theory also stated that at the age of 7-11, a child develops the ability to think systematically and logically. Furthermore, NEP-2020 stated that over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to age 6. Thus, proper guidance and care at an earlier stage are essential ingredients for a child’s future outcomes.
That’s where the role of PRT, or Primary teachers becomes crucial. As the age group mentioned by Erickson and Piaget is under the supervision of PRT, in addition, NEP-2020 has also stated that teachers must be at the centre of fundamental reforms in the education system. Therefore, proper educational guidance in pre-primary (LKG, UKG), primary and upper primary is so prominent that these stages are decisive factors in a child’s future (most of the time).
We know prevention is better than cure; however, the damage has been done, so the following are some measurable cures to minimize such dropout rates in Arunachal Pradesh. Firstly, provide in-service PRT with adequate training to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and to make school more lovable and interesting. Secondly, recruit fresh candidates for PRT through APPSC, as the new generation needs new teachers. Thirdly, give special attention to anganwadis and primary schools. Fourthly, provide extra classes and counseling to those children who are poor in their studies. Fifthly, segregate those children who belong to economically weaker sections and accordingly provide the necessary assistance. Sixthly, introduce skill-oriented vocational subjects at the primary level. Seventhly, regular health check-ups of the children and maintaining anecdotal records of each child.
APJ Kalam quoted that “Creativity is the key to success in the future, and primary education is where teachers can bring creativity in children at that level.”
M.Ed 4th Semester,
Hills College of Teacher Education,