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Dropout rate soaring after school mergers in tribal belts

 Adivasi children attending class in Kokrajhar district in Assam. File

Adivasi children attending class in Kokrajhar district in Assam. File

The flawed policy of the NITI Aayog and the Human Resource Development Ministry to close public schools that have low enrolment rate or single teachers in tribal districts is leading to a huge spike in dropout rates.

A national convention organised by the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch, the Students’ Federation of India and the Centre for Adivasi Research and Development which saw participation from Adivasi students, parents and teachers raised this and many other issues that have been leading to exclusion of tribal people from education.

Research by the Centre for Adivasi Research and Development has revealed that following the NITI Aayog recommendations in Jharkhand, 1,300 primary and middle schools were merged or closed and the government was targeting another 4,600 schools this year.

In Karnataka, both government and aided schools located within 1 km from other schools and having low enrolments will be merged with the nearest schools. This is expected to result in the merger of 28,847 schools with 8,530 nearest ones. In 2014, the Rajasthan government merged 17,000 of the 80,000 government schools in the State into the other schools. Another 4,000 schools are planned to be merged in the near future.

Odisha has identified 4,200 schools that have under 10 students each for merger or closure. Rayagada district alone has witnessed closure of 121 government schools, followed by 90 schools in Kandhamal. The two districts have more than 60% tribal and Dalit population.

“The Right to Education Act promises neighbourhood schools. Moreover because of the geographical conditions of the tribal region you need a decentralised system. Many villages are in remote locations and even if only for few children, the school must be located within the village,” CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said at the convention.

Scholarships unpaid

Participants at the convention said the government had not paid the post-matric and pre-matric scholarship for students and has an arrears of ₹716 crore in unpaid scholarships.

The convention demanded that the medium of instruction at the primary level should be in Adivasi languages. The students should be given right to choose the language of instruction at pre-matric and post-matric levels. Participants also criticised the government’s decision to stop funds for ashram schools without providing a viable alternative.


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Printable version | Jul 2, 2022 11:46:36 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/dropout-rate-soaring-after-school-mergers-in-tribal-belts/article24727261.ece