NEW DELHI: India's performance inprimary
regarded as one of its great achievements, and its
near 100% net enrollment is one of the Millennium
Development Goal targets it has reached ahead of time.
But this milestone hides some shocking facts - just
half the kids who enroll in Class I actually make it
to Class VIII.
In 2009-10 (the latest year for which official data
are available), 133.4 million children enrolled in
Classes I-V , yet only 54.5 million made it to Classes
VI-VIII . Most of these children dropping out of
school are winding up with very little education at
all; over 50% of all dropouts quit school before Class
III. In rural areas, the most dropouts leave school in
Class V, most likely because upper primary schools may
be located some distance away.
In urban areas on the other hand, a third of dropouts
leave school in Class II alone.
to achieve universal primary education. While it has
made significant strides towards achieving 100%
primary enrollment, it is failing to keep kids in
school. In National Sample Surveys, boys report the
need to earn an income as the biggest reason for
dropping out, while for girls it is domestic chores as
well as a lower emphasis on education from their
families. Nor does it help matters that only half of
all primary schools have a girls' toilet.
Moreover, parents are increasingly finding that even
if they make the sacrifices necessary to send their
kids to school, their children are not learning
enough. The Annual State of Education Report, a
publication brought out by the education non-profit
Pratham measuring levels of learning in rural schools,
shows that close to half of all children in Class V
cannot read texts meant for students in Class II.
Twothirds cannot solve a division sum.
In 2009, the centre set up theRashtriya
Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyanto
achieve a GeneralEnrollment
of 75% in secondary education (Class IX to XII) by
2020. The last year, the UPA government passed the
landmark Right To Education (RTE) Act, enshrining a
child's right to free and compulsory education in the
However unless the government urgently addresses the
dropout rate and makes sure that the impressive
statistics of children who enroll in school are
actually retained, this will become a right to
enrollment , rather than a right to a real and full