Hurdles in learning English and the cost of extra curricular activities are among the major reasons why poor students drop out of private schools in Delhi, says a study.
Hurdles in learning English and the cost of extra curricular activities are among the major reasons why poor students drop out of private schools in Delhi, says a study. Inadequate reimbursement on education expenditures also led to the dropout rate of students from economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups (EWS/DG), the survey by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights said. While the dropout rate came down to 10 per cent in 2014 from around 26 per cent in 2011, there has not been much change since then, said the study –‘Implementation of Section 12(1) (c) of Right To Education Act, 2009, in Delhi pertaining to Admission of Children from Disadvantaged Sections in Private Schools’.
According to Section 12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act, private unaided schools have to provide free and compulsory education to EWS/DG children, who should constitute at least one-fourth of the total strength of class 1 or pre-school education. “In the initial phase in 2011, the dropout rate was at around 26 per cent which came down to 10 per cent in 2014 but shows no major progress after that,” it said, adding that the most dropouts happen at the primary level. The study by the apex body for protection of child rights was based on data submitted by 650 schools across Delhi on year-wise dropout rates. It said one of the main “excuses” given by a school was that after the allotment (under the EWS category), parents did not show an interest in getting their children admitted to school, while the institute did not follow the matter up.
“Due to the lack of follow-up by the school or authorities, the seats remain vacant,” it said. Children left school because parents found the cost of books and extra-curricular too steep, it said. The study also flagged concern over another trend –that schools had no clarity on steps to follow when an EWS/DG category student left or did not join school. Documents collected by the NCPCR during onsite school visits show that if a child does not join a school, the institute needs to send a notification to the Department of Education pointing this out. But this is not practised when a student leaves school in the middle of a term. “As per the analysis of the data, it is clear that most of the schools don’t take any initiative to fill the empty seats while a few try filling them with general category students. The schools quote absence of proper guidelines from the DoE to maintain the ratio till class 8 as a reason for not taking admission after the entry class,” the study said.
According to the guideline of the Directorate of Education, all schools are allotted Rs 1,598 per EWS student per month as tuition fee reimbursement. For books and uniforms, all schools are expected to fill in details of the expenditure incurred and submit them to the DoE. The amount claimed is reimbursed via cheque to the school and then distributed to the students. “Parents have complained that the cost of books and extra curricular activity is too high and the reimbursement amount is not enough,” the study said. It quoted a parent as saying, “I pay around Rs 3,100 per quarter to the school for my son. Apart from that I spend about Rs 12,000 on his books. His uniform cost is extra. In case the school takes the child for picnic, I pay for it.”
The study said teachers had reported major achievement gaps in EWS students because of reasons such as poor dietary habits and lack of a conducive environment at home. “In one school, the counsellor pointed out that 19 students belonged to the ‘slow learner’ category, out of whom 15 belonged to the EWS category, (and) major reason cited for achievement gap was lingual as English language is not learnt by EWS students well enough to cope with studies in higher primary classes and above,” it said. Suggesting the way forward, it stressed the need for conducting regular programmes for educators on how to draw EWS/DG category children into the mainstream.
Noting that section 12 (2) of the RTE Act states that the total expenditure on education has to be reimbursed by the State, it said these children should be included in important co-curricular activities conducted in schools. The NCPCR also suggested that the medium of instruction should as far as possible be a child’s mother tongue and schools should make efforts for multilingual teaching, besides ensuring that schools prescribe low-cost NCERT books.