Mumbai (suburban) tops the list of districts across the state with a high dropout rate from secondary schools. In fact, the central government has pulled up the state school education department for failing to address the rising dropout rates from its secondary schools. According to data from the school education department, the overall dropout rate in secondary schools during the academic year 2015-16 rose to 12.44 % from 11% in 2014-15. While officials argued that the increase was marginal and the department is already working to curb dropouts, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has directed the state school education department to take immediate measures to address the issue.
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Officials from MHRD said that districts with high dropout rates, including Mumbai (suburban), Palghar, Mumbai (II), Pune and Thane, need special attention and intervention. The dropout rate in secondary schools in Mumbai (suburban) is 33.40% followed by Palghar (19.27%), Mumbai II (17.66%), Pune (17.06%) and Thane (16.94%).
“While dropout rates did not seem alarming to us across the state, it was shocking to find that of all the districts, Mumbai tops the list followed by Pune and Thane. Not only this, Mumbai also figures in the list of districts with low enrollment as per data submitted by the department,” said an official of the government’s department of school education and literacy.
However, Deputy Director of School Education BB Chavan said that the scenario in Mumbai suburbs reflects the plight of BMC and government-run schools in Mumbai. “The district Mumbai (suburban) comprises mostly BMC and government-run schools. One of the major reasons for dropouts is that a majority of students prefer private schools,” added Chavan.
To address the issue of dropouts, the state school education department in November issued a GR, asking school teachers to click a selfie with their students to keep a check on irregular students and rising number of dropouts.
However on Wednesday, Education Minister Vinod Tawde put this rule on hold “temporarily”, conceding that district education officials had wrongly implemented the selfie initiative, meant only for out of school students, for all students. Teachers too were reportedly unhappy with the selfie initiative.
According to the national achievement survey (NAS) conducted by the MHRD, the quality of secondary education in Maharashtra is lower than that of some other states, and of CBSE and ICSE schools. “We have been successful to a large extent in addressing the issue of dropouts across the state. And for the state to improve its standards, it has been decided to set benchmarks that are ahead of CBSE’s standards,” said Nand Kumar, secretary, school education.
The overall enrollment across the state increased to 36,75,444 in academic year 2015-16 as compared to 36,65,059 in 2014-15. This indicates an increase by 20% since academic year 2009-10.
However, districts such as Gadchiroli, Yavatmal, Nanded, Jalgaon and Mumbai (suburban) have reported low National Enrolment Ratio (NER). The MHRD officials also pointed out that transition rate (from class VIII to IX) has decreased from 100% in 2014-15 to 98.85% in 2015-16. The district with the lowest transition rate is Mumbai (suburban) with 78.49%.