Dropout rate in rural Karnataka shot up in 2016, finds study

Dropout rate in rural Karnataka shot up in 2016, finds study

 More children in rural Karnataka of the ages three and four were out of school in 2016 than there were in 2014, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016.

ASER is an annual household survey in rural India conducted by NGO Pratham Education Foundation to assess reading and arithmetic levels of children across the country. 

According to the 2016 report for Karnataka, 19.6% of three-year-old children who were surveyed were not enrolled in school or pre-school. This is a sharp increase from the 2014 figure which is 0.7 %. The percentage of children in the same age group enrolled in anganwadis has also dropped from 89.9% in 2014 to 71.3% in 2016. Similar trends are seen for children aged four as well. The study was not conducted in 2015.

Educationists point out that the increase in the percentage of children not enrolled in schools could be due to poor quality of curriculum. Rajalakshmi M S, Head of the Department, Early Childhood Education at VHD Central Institute of Home Science, Bengaluru said that parents may not see value in sending their kids to pre-schools. “Most pre-schools just teach the children a few rhymes and tell them a story or two. This does not create a stimulating experience for children. The curriculum needs to be revamped.”

Anganwadis are envisioned as pre-schools, especially for rural areas where private options are limited, but not much teaching happens there, she said. “Anganwadi teachers are not formally trained to teach. They do not have knowledge about brain development and so on. Poor quality of education could be the reason why the enrolment in these centres has decreased,” she opined.

V P Niranjan Aradhya, Fellow at Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University said that pre-primary education too must be made a fundamental right.

“Even the 1993 Unnikrishnan judgement said that all children from age 0 to 14 should have the right to free and compulsory education. Later, amendments were made to make only 6 to 14 the responsibility of the government.” However, pre-primary education is crucial to ensure that children adjust to the classroom setup, he said. “If not, children will have problem adjusting in a formal school, resulting in higher dropout rates and poor performance.”

Uma Mahadevan, principal secretary, for Department of Women and Child Development, declined to comment without studying the report in detail. However, she said, “It is possible that in urban areas more children are enrolling in private pre centres instead of anganwadis, especially above the age of five.” At present, there are more than 17 lakh children between the ages 3 and 6 enrolled in 65,911
anganwadi centres across the state, she said.

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