As per the new programme, at least one high school should exist within a 5-km radius of a village that already has a middle or upper primary school. The government feels this will neutralise dropout rates among children at the high school level.
In the first phase of this programme, 200 new secondary schools will be constructed, besides one model school each in 44 educationally backward districts to help impart quality education at the secondary school level. The project also envisages construction of girls’ hostels in rural areas to retain girls in the age group of 14-18 years from Class IX onwards.
Chief Minister M Karunanidhi laid the foundation stones for all the three components under the new scheme, including the construction of 200 new high school buildings at a total cost of Rs 188.94 crore.
After implementation of the Centrally-sponsored Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), children’s drop out rate at the primary school level sharply reduced from 3.81 per cent in 2005-06 to 1.02 per cent in 2008-09. Likewise at the middle or upper primary level, dropout rates for the same period slid to 1.88 per cent, State School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu said.
This has been made possible with more primary schools being set up and a larger number of them upgraded to middle schools with funds provided under the SSA, Thennarasu said. In the last four years alone, 2,626 new middle schools have come up across the state, he told Deccan Herald.
As per State Planning Commission figures, the dropout rate for children in high schools stands at 42.45 per cent for the year 2005-06. But the state has to achieve retention of all school age children from 14-16 years from Class IX onwards by 2017, as per the goals set under Centre’s Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan.