Published: 07th June 2022
Odisha: More than 7,000 adolescent girls dropped out of school in 2021-22, says WCD survey
Interestingly, districts like Boudh, Cuttack, Deogarh, Jajpur, Kandhamal, Kendrapara and Sonepur have less than five dropouts
A survey by the Women and Child Development has traced 7,717 adolescent girls (in the age group of 11 to 14 years) who have dropped out of school in the 2021-22 academic session.
The highest number of out of school girls are in Kalahandi (2,373) followed by Rayagada (2,256), Koraput (970), Malkangiri (655) and Nuapada (349). There is no data on the migration-prone district Ganjam.
Interestingly, districts like Boudh, Cuttack, Deogarh, Jajpur, Kandhamal, Kendrapara and Sonepur have less than five dropouts. Education activists feel the numbers are too low to be believed. In 2018, the department had found 55,868 adolescent girls who dropped out of school, but the School and Mass Education department had dismissed the data. The then School Education minister Badri Narayan Patra had put the number at 1,060 for that year.
The number is much higher if one goes by the situation at the grassroots, said convener of Odisha RTE forum Anil Pradhan. He gave the example of Mayurbhanj which has only 21 girls who are out of school as per the survey.
In Ranipokhari panchayat under Kaptipada block of the district, 122 child marriages had taken place during the pandemic and the number includes five girls who studied in a 5T transformed school, he said. Pradhan attributed the reasons behind the high dropout rate in Kalahandi, Rayagada and Koraput to migration and child marriages, among other things.
“A majority of the schools in these districts are in inaccessible pockets where education still remains a misnomer. Education in schools is free but there are other social reasons which force the girls to drop out, be it early marriages due to poverty, migrating along with parents to work or taking care of younger siblings while parents are away at work,” he said.
As per the National Family Health Survey-5, child marriages among girls in districts like Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Koraput and Nayagarh is higher than the national average of 23.3 per cent. While the percentage stands at 39.4 per cent in Nabarangpur (where the number of dropouts is 204), it is 35.7 per cent in Nayagarh (39 dropouts), 35.5 per cent in Koraput, 32.4 per cent in Malkangiri and 31.3 per cent in Mayurbhanj.
A higher official of the Women and Child Development said the department has asked the School and Mass Education department to bring back these girls to school under the Kanya Shiksha Pravesh Utsav which was launched in March this year by the Centre. “The names of all the identified girls will be entered into the Prabandh portal of the Education Ministry and through the portal, their school performance will be tracked throughout the academic year,” she said.
State Project Director of Odisha School Education Programme Authority Anupam Saha said the School and Mass Education department is currently corroborating the data provided by WDC department and will come out with a final figure soon.