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62% of dropped out Odisha children tribals, 53% said none counselled them to rejoin

By Naba Kishor Pujari* 

The Odisha government launched a Learning Recovery Programme to help students catch up on the education they have missed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme is designed to help students from standard 3rd to 9th to bridge the learning losses created due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.
The Learning Recovery Programme is part of the Odisha government’s response to the pandemic and will be supported by Odisha School Education Programme Authority (OSEPA). The Learning Recovery Programme exemplifies the Odisha government’s commitment to providing quality education for all students. The programme was designed to ensure that all students can continue their studies and achieve their educational goals regardless of their background.
Together with its allies Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha, two state-level collectives, the Atmashakti Trust designed a campaign i.e. Education Cannot Wait, Act Now! started on the 15th of November, i.e., Birsha Munda Jayanti not only in Odisha but in 5 other states such as Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand where numerous activities were undertaken to raise awareness among the public, pluralize support and seek actions from the government on effective implementation of LRP as well as RTE.
The campaign came to an end on the 10th of December, International Human Rights day. From the beginning of the campaign, various activities such as fact-finding, consultation, recommendation collection, testimonials, village level resolution, pledge, press conference, sharing of findings with various stakeholders at the district level, dialogue with line departments, etc. Were conducted to sensitize the stakeholders on such an urgent issue of education.
Significant highlights of fact-finding conducted over 4 major areas such as LRP, RTE, drop out and migration are given below:
The Odisha government directed the LRP to be conducted in 54,446 government/ government aided schools, among 37,97,830 students of Class III-IX, by engaging 2,29,799 teachers in the 30 districts of Odisha. The campaign covered 13 districts of Odisha with 73 blocks and 1 ULB, along with 485 Gram Panchayats and 1404 villages.
As per the fact-finding report, 14.45 % of students do not know about LRP though it was started in September. 8.93 % of students interviewed said that no assessment was done in their school. 11.26% of students have not attended the baseline assessment for LRP in their school. 8.84% of students said that no learning recovery classes have started in their school. 6.69% of students have not received any LRP education materials.
It was found that 22.89% of students rate the LRP teaching methodology as average. 21.78% of students reported the absence of an activity calendar based on the Learning Outcomes (LO) in their school. 44.71% of students feel completely lost in education.
Then, 49.58% (2748) of students interviewed are finding difficulty in coping with their studies. 37% of students find the LRP learning unfriendly and difficult to read the LRP books provided by the school.
Similarly, as per the fact-finding on RTE status, 23.80% of schools are short of 1 teacher compared to the number of sanctioned posts in their school. Similarly, 28.19%, 16.32%, & 6.64% of schools are short of 2, 3, and 4 teachers, respectively. 17% of schools are short of 1 classroom compared to the number of classes in the school. Similarly, 26.26%, 24.95%, 11.09%, and 5.54% of schools are short of 2, 3, 4, and 5 classrooms respectively.11.66% of schools don’t have drinking water facilities. 15.01% of schools are accessing non-drinkable water sources.
Further 11.24% of schools do not have separate kitchen sheds. 14.70% of schools don’t have toilet facilities. 20.61% of schools do not have separate toilets for boys and girls. 44.04% of toilets in schools lack water facilities.
The students do not use 30.07% of toilets in schools. 75.63% of schools don’t have playgrounds. 41.32% of schools don’t have a boundary wall. Parents mentioned that it is unsafe because of the absence of a boundary wall. 28.35% of schools do not have electrical connections. 88.13% of schools need repairing.
At the same time, 13.44% of School Management Committee (SMC) members never participate in monitoring the school work. 42.42% of schools do not have any special provisions for the disabled. 51.83% of schools do not have a complaint mechanism for lodging complaints for the disabled.
The fact-finding on drop out, which covered 1,921 schools, found that 244 students (Class-III-VIII) had dropped out of school. Out of the total dropout cases, 61.7% of students belonged to ST, 10%, 24.2, & 10% are from SC, OBC, and general categories, respectively. 52.5% of students said no teachers came and counseled them to rejoin school. 44.8% of the parents did not even try to send their children back to school. 50.2% of the respondents revealed that there were no from the SMC.
As per the fact-finding on migration, 152 students were found to have migrated multiple times, because of which they were out of school. 84.2% of the total respondents migrated temporarily, while 15.8% migrated permanently because of insufficient livelihood opportunities in the locality. 24% said they migrated because they had no other livelihood options.
Also, 16.4% of students said they are helping their parents with the household work, 15.8%, 11.8%, & 27.6% said they were working outside, supporting their parents at the work site, and other reasons, respectively. 55.5% of the parents take their children with them while migrating because no one is left in their homes to care for their children. Similarly, 17.6% and 26.6% said they need their children's support at the worksite for more income and other reasons, respectively.
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*Senior manager-communications, Atmashakti Trust

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