The dropout rate in Assam’s primary schools almost doubled during 2021-22 from the previous fiscal partly due to the identification of fake students enrolled by several government-run schools.
The other factor was the spill-over impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu told journalists on November 9 evening.
He said the analysis of data uploaded on the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) revealed a jump in the dropout rate in lower primary schools from 3.3% in 2020-21 to 6.02% in 2021-22.
The dropout rate in upper primary schools also increased to 8.8% in 2021-22 from 4.6% in 2020-21.
“The number of total dropout students in the last fiscal was 1,29,543. A survey helped us find out that 27,941 of these out-of-school children were never enrolled,” Mr. Pegu said.
“Many schools had uploaded inflated enrolment on the UDISE portal directly in order to avoid merger or closure due to low student enrolment. But with data purification undertaken, we expect the situation to stabilise soon,” he said.
Fake students were also shown in the school enrolment registers to get benefits such as inflated midday meal allocation and more money for free school uniforms and textbooks, Education Department officials said.
Mr. Pegu, however, said Assam was not the only State to have experienced the pandemic-induced dropouts from schools.
On the brighter side, the dropout rate in Assam’s secondary schools dropped from 31% in 2020-21 to 20.3% in 2021-22.