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Over 1 lakh school dropouts in State

Dikkanchi raises question in House; Opposition follows suit

School Education and Literacy Minister Deborah Marak speaks during the question hour in  the Assembly on Monday. (ST)
School Education and Literacy Minister Deborah Marak speaks during the question hour in
the Assembly on Monday. (ST)

SHILLONG: The question posed by Congress legislator Dikkanchi Shira on Monday on the high dropout rate of students has prompted the Opposition to raise concerns over the alarming trend as over 1 lakh students have dropped out of school in the last five years.
Much of the question hour was spent on the issue as the matter was important.
According to School Education and Literacy Minister, Deborah Marak the total number of school dropouts is 1,09,495.
To a supplementary question, the Minister said presented the district-wise dropout numbers for 2017-18 (see chart). West Khasi Hills recorded the maximum number of dropouts followed by West Jaintia Hills. South Garo Hills is the only district to have recorded dropouts below 200.
Though Dikkanchi asked a few supplementary questions on various aspects of the issue, the minister said the answers were not readily available.
While Saleng Sangma (Independent) asked the State government to take action against absentee teachers, the minister said the government will deal with the matter firmly.
He also cited the shortage of drinking water facilities in many schools.
Deborah, however, said due to security reasons, some teachers find it difficult to travel to remote and difficult areas, but added that the government will find out ways and means to provide security to them.
UDP’s Titosstarwell Chyne wanted to know from the government as to how many students were provided with transport allowances as they are residing in remote and difficult areas.
Nihim D. Shira of NPP, while expressing concern over the sudden rise in dropout numbers in the State, wanted to know the reason and also the total number of awareness programmes conducted by the government to check the trend.
UDP legislators Metbah Lyngdoh and Jemino Mawthoh also aired concerns over the issue.
Mawthoh said there are many school dropouts in his constituency (Nongthymmai). “Four to five such children of a single mother are staying in one house,” he added.     To a supplementary question by Embhahlang Syiemlieh (UDP) on the vocational training given to school dropouts, the minister said those who are employed after getting training cannot expect handsome salaries as the remuneration will depend on their qualifications.
She said that the government through RMSA scheme has set up vocational training centres for courses like hospitality, wellness and beauty, tourism among others. Students attending certificate courses are assured of job placements, she added.
According to the minister, the reasons for high rate of school dropouts are poor economic conditions of rural masses, low intelligence and repeated failures of students, lack of access due to small habitations, lack of trained teachers, poor infrastructure in government schools and household responsibilities of girls like taking care of siblings and domestic work, besides migration of children from rural areas.
Answering a supplementary question by UDP’s Paul Lyngdoh, Deborah said vocational education is provided in 10 government schools in the State.
Earlier, on the measures taken by the government, the minister said a special training programme has been launched for providing education to out-of-schoolchildren and also age appropriate class for completing special training programmes.
Other government initiatives include community awareness programme for parents and the community regarding the importance of education for the future generation of every child, enrolment drive as part of celebration of world literacy day and also creating mass awareness programme, and flexible timing for special training centres to cater to those children who are not willing to come during the day.
Another initiative of the government is the collaboration and networking with NGOs for reaching out to children living on street or slums and other disadvantaged group.
The government also mooted setting up of special training programme through innovative means for remote areas in Jaintia Hills, improving the quality of teachers’ education, child friendly environment.
Entitlements are also provided to students which include free text books, uniforms and mid day meal, besides distribution of transport and escort allowances to children residing in the coal mine areas and difficult areas, she added.
Later, in reply to the Budget discussion, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma asserted that the government was committed to address the problem through various means.

Year        No. of dropouts
       2013    33,557
       2014                       31,276
       2015    14,957
       2016       17,299
       2017       12,406

District-wise breakup (2017)
    East Khasi Hills     662
    West Khasi Hills     4,508
    South West Khasi Hills     874
    Ri Bhoi     1,041
    East Jaintia Hills     682
    West Jaintia Hills     1,440
    East Garo Hills     886
    North Garo Hills     1,316
    West Garo Hills     592
    South West Garo Hills     241
    South Garo Hills     164

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