Faiz Parveen, a 9-year-old studying in primary school at village Daniyalpur in Munger District of Bihar was excelling in his studies. Faiz was studying in this school since 3 years and was always on time for school. It was the month of October (2018), when Faiz was absent in class continuously for 4 days. Initially, his teacher thought he might be unwell but on the fourth day, she asked his friends. Answering to teacher, these young boys said “ऊ अब नाइ आयिते, मैय्या बप्पा के साथ काम करईले भट्टा पर चली गिल छे| (He will not come, he has gone to work in brick kilns).
Two times during the year, the brick kilns work opens when poor families in village get the opportunity to work and earn. This is the time when people want to earn more and more for which they lead as many members as they can from their family; into this workspace which is everything bad that one can imagine of, barring the money of course. But how much of that is fair is a different theme altogether. Faiz’s family thought 9 years is a good age to start including Faiz in work, so that he could bring some money back home.
This is not the first story i am hearing … dropouts like Faiz exist at every corner of rural Bihar. But there exist several other reasons due to which children are not able to continue their studies and dropout, putting their futures at stake. There are 6.21 crore children out of school in India according to the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s 2014 Educational Statistic Report. An article by Seema Rajput says “Even after commencement of Right to Education Act 2009, that commits India to universal enrollment and retention of all children, a state like Uttar Pradesh still lacks definition of school dropout / states that have a definition lack the mechanism to identify those at the risk of dropping out.”
Among all the tribal communities, dropout prevails most in Adivasi communities due to insensitivity among parents on education and caste based discrimination. In other parts of India, esp. the rural pockets, major reasons for dropouts of children from school are the following:
- Poverty: Families like Faiz’s, living in extreme poverty needs survival before education. Poor families in India strive for everyday meal and when they get any labor opportunity in their village, they push their whole family towards that work. Increase in child labor decreases the retention rate of children in schools ultimately leading children to dropping out.
- No Detention Policy, RTE (2009): The “no-detention” provision of the Right to Education Act, 2009, which stipulated that no child could be held back in elementary school (Classes 1-8) has played a major role in children dropping out from school. Though the approach was to promote child centered planning where teachers will make continuous assessments and introduce necessary interventions to help the child grow, there have been no such monitoring in schools except for few well-funded ones. As a result of this, children without the assessment of their understanding and capabilities are promoted till class 8 and then a big gap occurs when they are not able to do well after that. Ultimately children loose interest in studies due to their low performance and choose to drop out as they are unable to keep up the pace with whatever is being taught.
- High expectations of parents: Schools in rural India lack in introducing practices to promote a child’s interest which doesn’t necessarily lie in textbooks. Due to higher expectations of parents, children are forced to spend most of their time studying subjects they don’t have any interest in which increases anxiety and their dislike towards attending schools.
- Poor infrastructure: Various researches have proved that the infrastructure in school has a direct effect on the retention rate of children in schools. Infrastructure issues, especially the lags in sanitation infrastructure have forced girls to leave schools. Nationally, 19.15% of primary schools do not have separate girls’ toilets, 6% of all primary schools do not have facilities for drinking water while 58.4% of all primary schools do not have a hand-washing facility near their toilets. (Source: DISE Report, 2013-14). Poor accessibility and availability have also increased dropout rates in schools. There still exist schools in villages where 1 to 5 grade children study in a single classroom due to lack of classrooms in schools or the classrooms being used for other purposes like, putting ration for mid-day meal, heath camps etc.
- Migration: The majority of labor class in rural India migrates on a regular basis with the purpose of getting work. Children of such parents, tend to ply along with them, which leads to their sudden drop from the education program. Even if these children enroll in other government schools in places they have migrated into, the irregularity of the stay leads to drop out there too. Consequently, this gap increases and the frequent change in schools initiates lack of interest among children in attending schools. Also, it becomes difficult for children to cope up with the change in environment due to which they step back from attending school.
- Bullying: Caste-based discrimination prevails majorly in rural India and initiates an inferiority complex among children. Children, especially the ones coming from SC/ST communities and introverts are being judged and laughed at. This constant bullying holds them back from going to school and sometimes hate schools too, which diminishes the chances of even attending some alternate schools.
- Less-sensitization towards education: In many poor families education is not considered as important as it is for life. I remember a conversation with Rajaram Ji, who is farmer in village Bangalwa of Munger district in Bihar on why his son Bunty had dropped out from school. He said, “even if I make my child go to school regularly, agriculture will only be the survival option for the family. There have been so many who’ve studied from government school in villages and pursuing farming only, then why would I send my child to school when he has to continue farming only. Why not teach him farming properly utilizing the time he will go to school.” Also, children themselves want to do what their parents have or to take forward the work their fathers have done which ultimately makes them give negligible importance to education.
All these circumstances and situations even after the implementation of various policies prevail in our country. Children like Faiz are still earning for the family, a child coming from backward tribe is bullied every single day, people like Rajaram Ji will make every Bunty work on fields …
Note: Names have been changed to protect identity.
- DISE Report, 2013-14
- MHRD 2014 Educational Statistic Report