Dropout rate goes down

The dropout rate in primary schools has been gradually reducing over the past several years, but this dip is still “statistically insignificant”, according to the Annual Primary School Census (APSC) 2016 report. The dropout rate was 19.2 per cent in 2016 as against 20.4 per cent in 2015, the report says.
In earlier years, the rates were 20.9 per cent (2014), 21.4 per cent (2013), 26.2 per cent (2012), 29.7 per cent (2011), 39.8 per cent (2010) and 47.2 per cent (2005).
The report on the state of affairs in primary education finds that the dropout rate is higher among boys than girls. In 2016, the dropout rate of boys was 22.3 per cent and that of girls was 16.1 per cent compared to the previous year’s figures of 23.9 per cent (boys) and 17 per cent (girls), respectively.
The report says the country needs a breakthrough at the primary level in terms of quality education, student’s learning achievements and reduction in dropout. Efficient teachers, classrooms and other resources can effectively reduce the rate to zero, it adds.
On a positive note, the overall enrolment rate in primary education increased in 2016. The gross enrolment rates for the last three years were 112.12 per cent (2016), 109.2 per cent (2015) and 108.4 per cent (2014).
However, boys (109.32 per cent) lagged behind girls (115 per cent) in overall enrolment in primary classes. The respective rates were 113.4 per cent (girls) and 105 per cent (boys) in 2015, and 112.3 per cent (girls) and 104.6 per cent (boys) in 2014. The increase in enrolment, the report says, was due to the government’s communication campaign for 100 per cent enrolment, stipend programme, school feeding programme, operationalisation of pre-primary education and introduction of primary education completion examination, among others.
Among the classes, Grade-3 and Grade-4 have witnessed the highest dropout rates. The report finds that grade-wise, the dropout rate is highest in Grade-4 with 9.8%. Of this, the dropout rate for boys was 10.1 per cent for girls 9.1 per cent. The Grade-3 dropout was 4.2 per cent (boys 6 per cent and girls 2.6 per cent), while it was 2.9 per cent (boys 4.4 per cent and girls 1.3 per cent) in Grade-2 and 1.5 per cent (boys 1.1 per cent and girls 1.7 per cent) in Grade-5. However, the dropout of girls was more compared to boys in Grade-5.
The survival rate in Grade-5 increased rapidly from 52 per cent in 2010 to 82.1 per cent (boys 78.6 per cent and girls 85.4 per cent) in 2016, the report said.
The highest dropout rate in 2016 was reported in Gaibanda district (41.5 per cent), with the boys’ dropout rate being 42.9 per cent and that of girls 40 per cent. In Bhola, it was 34.9 per cent (boys 38.4 per cent and girls 31.4 per cent) and in Cox’s Bazar it was 31.2 per cent (boys 39.6 per cent and girls 22.8 per cent).
The report said grade-wise enrolment dropped slightly in 2016 (18,602,988) as compared to 2015 (19,067,761). In addition, enrolment dropped in all the grades, except Grade 5, in 2016 as compared to 2015.
The total enrolment of children aged six to 10 years increased considerably from 2009 to 2014, but declined noticeably since 2015 and 2016 (by 0.485 million in 2015 and 0.464 million in 2016). The dip in enrolment was due to a gradual decrease in population growth of the country. Earlier, only 70 per cent children were eligible for getting stipends, and teachers were keen to provide inflated enrolment figures to ensure such funds for all children.
Executive director of the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Rasheda K Choudhury, told The Independent that difficulty in communication, poor infrastructure and lack of efficient teachers were to be blamed for the drop-out rate. She said dropouts were higher in haor, char and hilly areas along with remote plain lands and slums due to difficult communication system and poor infrastructure. She streassed the development of these five vulnerable areas to promote education. She praised the higher enrolment of girls at the primary level as compared to boys. Rasheda, also a former advisor to the caretaker government, said the dropout rate of boys was higher because many of them got engaged in child labour or ancestral jobs like weaving cloths and fishing. “The communication system in haor areas worsens every year during the rainy season as strong waves hamper normal movement of boats, making the journeys very risky for the children. The parents prefer not to send their wards to school,” she observed.