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Is Gujarat govt camouflaging dropout data of lower primary? Flash data show very high repeaters

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Gujarat government hiding a high dropout rate at the primary level in the state, especially at the lower level (grades 1 to 5)? It would seem so, considering that the latest data, provided by the Gujarat government to the Union ministry of human resources suggest a very high "repetition rate" at the lower primary level, 6.67 per cent, as against the national average of half as much, 3.17 per cent. In fact, it is the the second highest in the country -- next to West Bengal's 10.90 per cent and equal to Bihar. The data are reflected in the latest "Flash Statistics" of "Elementary Education in India: Towards Universal Elementary Education", put out by the Government of India, put out this month.
Educational experts say, repetition rate "measures the phenomenon of pupils from a cohort repeating a grade, and its effect on the internal efficiency of educational systems. In addition, it is one of the key indicators for analysing and projecting pupil flows from grade to grade within the educational cycle." Obtained from school register, school survey or census for data on enrollment and repeaters by grade, experts add, "repetition rate ideally should approach zero per cent"; and a high repetition rate "reveals problems in the internal efficiency of the educational system."
As against a very high repetition rate, the flash statistics on Gujarat reveal a low dropout rate at the lower primary level, just about 2.99 per cent, as against the national average of 6.50 per cent. The dropout rate, for instance, for standards 1 to 5 is calculated by finding out how many children admitted in class 1 reach class 5. As a general rule, the children who are dropped out are often found to become child workers. In Gujarat, many of these children migrate with their parents, who go to cities or villages to work in the booming construction industry or work as agricultural workers in rich farmers' fields, respectively.
There has been some criticism from certain quarters lately -- though still quite subdued -- that there is a specific instruction to schools to re-register the name of those children who do not turn up in the school next year in the same grade. This is done, say activists working on education in various voluntary organisations, in order to show a high enrollment rate. However, clearly, these data cannot hide number of repeaters in a particular grade, hence they find reflected in the overall enrollment data. While it is very easy to manipulate data on low dropout rate by showing that children remain in schools, this can only be done by "re-enrolling" dropped out children. Hiding data of those who are "re-enrolled" in the same grade on "completion" of a year, indeed, is virtually impossible.
It seems, while compiling data, the state officialdom has not taken enough care to camouflage the dropout rate the higher primary level (grades 6 to 8). Data handed over to the Central government show that dropout rate at the higher primary level is a whopping 29.33 per cent in Gujarat, as against the national average of just  6.56 per cent. As for repetition rate at the higher primary level, it "automatically" drops by not "re-enrolling" children who have been dropped out. Even then, the repetition rate at the higher primary level in Gujarat is 3.28 per cent, which is higher (almost double) than the national average of 1.83 per cent.
There is so far no word from the state officialdom on why the repetition rate is so high both at the lower primary and higher primary levels, or why is the dropout rate at the higher primary level zooms so high, becoming the highest compared to any other state -- except Karnataka, whose dropout rate at the higher primary level is 36.39 per cent. While the state officialdom keeps saying that it has "succeeded" in bringing down high dropout rate, it has failed to suggest anywhere, in any documents, if that is so, why is the repetition rate so high at the lower primary level, almost double that of India.

Repetition rate among states:                          
States
Lower primary
Upper
primary
AP
0.57
0.40
Assam
2.07
2.58
Bihar
6.68
3.04
Chhattisgarh
0.82
0.44
Gujarat
6.67
3.28
Haryana
0.71
0.14
HP  
0.89
0.83
J&K
0.72
1.54
Jharkhand
5.58
1.56
Karnataka
1.18
1.21
Kerala
1.80
2.16
MP
1.51
0.79
Maharashtra
NA
NA
Odisha
2.92
1.42
Punjab
0.61
0.37
Rajasthan
4.29
2.37
TN
0.07
0.06
UP
1.63
1.82
Uttarakhand
4.89
2.30
WB
10.90
7.39
All-India
3.17
1.83


























Dropout rate among states:
States
Lower primary
Upper primary    
AP
6.17
6.83
Assam
11.71
3.61
Bihar
5.68
2.91
Chhattisgarh
4.93
1.72
Gujarat
2.99
29.33
Haryana
NA
NA
HP
0.72
0.90
J&K
11.33
4.42
Jharkhand
12.62
6.39
Karnataka
2.03
36.39
Kerala
0.08
1.20
MP
8.31
 7.40
Maharashtra
1.86
3.30
Odisha
5.37
3.62
Punjab
1.80
NA
Rajasthan
7.79
0.01
TN
0.98
0.28
UP
11.85
3.97
Uttarakhand
4.93
2.09
WB
6.61
5.91
All-India
6.50
6.56



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