Sonia concerned over high dropout rate in village schools

She noted that "one fourth of the teachers" in the village schools remain absent and said the dropout rate, particularly amongst the minority and poor was high. Speaking at a function after inaugurating 31 Navodaya Vidyalayas in various parts of the country, Gandhi said, "Everyone has a right to education and it was not limited to a few".

She said the Right to Education Bill would address all issues pertaining to education in the country. "The UPA government under Manmohan Singh is giving scholarships...Awareness about these has to be spread," she said, hoping that the Right to Education Bill will be able to achieve this.

In her speech, Gandhi, who is also the Chairperson of the UPA, recalled that the concept of Navodaya Vidyalays was introduced by the late Rajiv Gandhi. "I can say that the students studying here are on the right track. Rajiv Gandhi was concerned about the poor, backward and their children. He felt that the country would not progress till their upliftment," she said.

Gandhi said that due to the former Prime Minister's vision, 600 Navodaya schools have been set up and more than two lakh students study in them. "They get good education and it also helps development of their personality," she said, adding that the education provided in these schools is on par with the best schools.

She, however, said that the resolve should be to work in a better way and also for a better educational system. "Children should be given such education which helps them keep pace with the modern changes and developments," she said, wondering why other government schools cannot be on par with these (Navodayas) schools.

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