Odisha Grapples with Soaring Secondary School Dropouts, Urgent Action Needed


In a troubling revelation, the education ministry has brought to light the critical state of Odisha’s education system, which now claims the nation’s highest secondary school dropout rate at a staggering 27.3%. This distressing statistic has raised significant concerns about the state’s education landscape and is demanding immediate attention and comprehensive reform measures.

According to the data presented in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the national average dropout rate for secondary schools stands at 12.6%. However, Odisha’s dropout rate exceeds this average by more than double, signifying a deep-rooted problem that requires urgent intervention and policy changes.

Notably, Odisha is not the only state grappling with the dropout crisis. Other states such as Meghalaya, Bihar, and Assam also exhibit worrisome figures, with dropout rates of 21.7%, 20.5%, and 20.3%, respectively.

The concerns surrounding secondary school dropouts are not confined to these states alone. Several others are facing significant challenges in retaining students within the education system. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, and West Bengal all show dropout rates exceeding the 15% mark, pointing towards a broader issue that requires a concerted effort from policymakers and stakeholders.

The dropout problem is not limited to the secondary school level; it is evident at the primary and upper-primary levels as well. Manipur reports the highest primary school dropout rate at 13.3%, followed by Meghalaya with 9.8% and Arunachal Pradesh with 9.3%. Similarly, at the upper-primary level, Meghalaya faces a concerning dropout rate of 10.6%, followed by Assam at 8.8% and Punjab at 8%.

The data presented in Parliament is sourced from the Department of School Education and Literacy’s (DoSEL) Unified District Information System for Education Plus. Recognizing the severity of the dropout issue, the Government of India introduced the Samagra Shiksha scheme in 2018-19. This integrated scheme for school education aims to provide inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels, from preschool to Class 12, with the ultimate goal of achieving a 100% Gross Enrollment Ratio.

The high dropout rates in Odisha and other states point to underlying challenges in the education system that need to be addressed promptly. Factors such as poverty, lack of access to quality education, gender disparities, and a disconnect between school curriculum and practical skills are among the many contributors to this crisis.

To combat the dropout epidemic effectively, it is essential for the government and education authorities to take a multi-pronged approach. This should include measures to enhance the quality of education, improve infrastructure and facilities in schools, implement targeted interventions to support at-risk students, and promote community involvement in education.

Furthermore, addressing socio-economic disparities and providing financial incentives to encourage families to keep their children in school can play a pivotal role in reducing dropout rates. Creating awareness about the importance of education and its long-term benefits is also crucial in changing mindsets and attitudes towards education.

By urgently addressing the dropout crisis and fostering an environment that values education, Odisha and other states can pave the way for a brighter future for their youth, unlocking the full potential of their citizens and contributing to the nation’s progress and development. Timely action and collaborative efforts from all stakeholders are imperative to ensure that every child receives the education they deserve and are equipped to build a promising future for themselves and the country.

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