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Decline in Madhyamik enrolment: Bengal to conduct survey to identify dropouts in govt schools

Decline in Madhyamik enrolment: Bengal to conduct survey to identify dropouts in govt schools

February 28, 2023
Mita Mukherjee

The West Bengal government has asked state-aided schools to inform exactly how many students have dropped out from their institutions since 2020, after outbreak of Covid-19 and sought detailed information about the reasons behind their leaving studies, the students’ present status, the present condition of their families and are the students willing to get enrolled again if they are given an opportunity.

The schools have been asked to contact each of the dropped out student and their family members personally and find out whether they have left studies because of reduction of household income, loss of parent or due to prolonged closure of schools, long distance between residence and school, unavailability of schools in the neighborhood, sibling care, domestic chores, difficulty in understanding the teaching or because they have got married.

The process of providing the information to the government has started and the survey is significant in the current situation when there has been a sudden dip in enrolment of candidates in the ongoing state Madhyamik (Class X ) board exams that created a concern among teachers and academics in the state.  This year around four lakh less candidates than previous year are writing the Class X state board exam that began on February 23.

The present survey is aimed to find out to what extent the pandemic is responsible for the sharp decline in number of examinees in the 2023 Madhyamik and if so what could be the right measure to bring the students back to the schools, a senior official of the state school education department said.

With an aim to prevent students from dropping out of schools due to financial problems, the state government had introduced a number of  benefits like Kanyashree, Aikyashree, Shikhashree, Swami Vivekananda merit cum means scholarship, Sabooj Sathi scheme for school students. The state government has wanted to know from the schools whether the dropped out students received these benefits at the time of leaving the schools.

Among the other queries the government has sought from the schools are whether the  dropped out students have joined any other normal school or vocational course, whether they suffer from any disability, their religion, the category they belong to (general, SC, ST, OBC), what are the dropped out students doing now, whether they are working somewhere or helping parents at home, if they are working outside, what kind of work they are engaged in, what are their siblings doing, if the drop out is a girl student then whether she is married now.

Bratya Basu the state education minister had attributed this year’s  sharp drop in the number of Madhyamik examinees to the age bar the school education department had implemented in 2013 for students admissions in Class I after the implementation of the recommendations of the Right to Education (RTE) act.

Earlier, Ramanuj Ganguly the president of West Bengal Board of Secondary Education had said that the current batch had not attended in-person classes when they were in Class IX and many of them are not prepared to sit for the Class X board exams. This could be the reason behind the sharp drop in the number of examinees this year, Ganguly had said.

“ The survey started a few weeks ago and the schools have begun to send the details about the information we have sought from the schools. We can find out the actual causes that led to such a huge drop of Madhyamik examinees after completion of the survey,” a senior official of the school department said.

The headmaster of a school in the southern fringe of Kolkata said 54 students studying in Classes IX of his institution had left studies since 2021. The school has already started the process of sending the details about the students to the government.

“It is a difficult task tracking the dropped out students and their family members and collecting the correct information about them. But still we appreciate the initiative taken by the government to stop students from leaving studies midway,” the headmaster told EducationWorld preferring anonymity.

Also Read: Bengal: English question paper appears on social media; state board rules out leak

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