SFI to form 'anti-drop out squads' in 2022

SFI to form 'anti-drop out squads' in 2022 to bring dropped out students back to campuses

The SFI will be fanning out its activists in college units to identify dropped out students through a survey in January

SFI activists conducting survey in Jhargram in West Bengal. Photo credit: Special arrangement

With Covid-19 wrecking the lives of marginalised sections, the Students’ Federation of India is launching ‘anti-dropout squads’ across the country in the new year to identify students dropped out during the pandemic and bring them back to schools and colleges.

The CPI(M)-backed students organisation is also planning to intensify its struggle against digital divide in the education sector by opposing increase in mobile data rates by private mobile operators and urging the government to come out with student friendly data packs.

The survey would record income loss during lockdown, fees, details on continuation of studies, access to digital learning and reasons for dropout.

The SFI will be fanning out its activists in college units to identify dropped out students through a survey in January, then prepare a report and ask state governments to take steps to support such youth to come back to campuses. The SFI initiated the pilot survey in 24 North Parganas recently.

The action plan comes after the SFI released 'A Pandemic that Ended Education for Many' in its publication 'Indian Researcher' earlier this year after studying the trends of enrollment and facilities available at households based on government and private studies.

“Pandemic has impacted the lives of people. Mostly those from the Dalit and tribal sections are suffering. Earlier, students used to do part-time jobs. But now, it is full-time job and part-time education,” SFI National General Secretary Mayukh Biswas told DH.

Dipsita Dhar, SFI National Joint Secretary, said the last two years have witnessed increasing dropout rates, especially from the marginalised sections. “Many of their parents lost jobs and many of them had to forcefully take up different economic activities. The girl students got most affected, some of them were married off, some of them became mothers at a very early age. We missed out all these people from our education system,” she said.

“We see education in a developing country as a tool of mobility. It is supposed to give opportunities for employment and empowerment. Majority of people who need this tool most, they are pushed out from the system,” Dhar told DH.

Biswas said the re-opening of schools and colleges are a must, as it is adding to the dropout rates. He said the government’s National Education Policy that allows closure of schools with less than 30 students will be detrimental to people in rural India.

On fighting digital divide, Biswas said the SFI has already staged protests against mobile operators jacking up data prices. He demanded special data packs for students and urged the government to introduce data packs for students.

According to the study released by the SFI, opening of physical classrooms along with mass vaccination of students is the only option to retain students within education.

“Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have created an enormous social and economic divide, which often pushes the students out of their school and college education if there is no state support available,” it said.

Students from marginalised sections were forced to leave education and remain either casually employed or even unemployed while seeking work, it said.

The study also highlighted “forced work” for girl students pursuing higher education. Citing the Time Use Survey Data of 2019, it said the burden of domestic work and reproductive labour was almost thrice for girl students in the age group of 18-30 years compared to men of the same age group. 

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