VIJAYAWADA: The dropout rate of girl students in schools across the State is increasing by the day. Meanwhile, the female literacy ratio is still around 50 per cent, while the male literacy rate has crossed 75 per cent.
As per the reports of District Information System for Education (DISE) for the year 2015-16, the proportion of females enrolled in education at all levels of school education, both primary and secondary education, is less than that of their male counterparts.
The school enrolment from class I-VIII is over 56 lakh and the enrolment of ratio of boys and girls is 53.66:46.34. Though the enrolment of girls has taken a slight increase from the year 2014-15, the dropout ratio increased to a greater extent.
In Andhra Pradesh, the girl dropout rate is over 20 per cent during 2015-16. The dropout rate among the girls of class VIII is 3.78 per cent in 2014-15 and 5.53 per cent in 2015-16.
Similarly, the dropout rate increased to 6.72 per cent from 2.89 per cent among class IX girls and from 12.65 per cent to 15.43 per cent among class X girls.
“The main reasons for the increase in girl dropout rate are family pressure and financial burdens. Parents in both rural and urban areas consider girl child as a burden and are of the opinion that she doesn’t need education. Even in the 21st century, girls aged below 16 years are being married off. This should be stopped and the government must make girl education mandatory,” pointed out N Rammohan Rao of HELP Foundation.
The dropout rate among girls of class I-X is high in Kurnool (49.81 per cent), Prakasam (39.21 pc), Kadapa (34.34 pc), Vizianagaram (33.87 pc) and Guntur (30.13 per cent) districts.
There is a significant correlation between the percentage of child marriage incidents and the percentage of school dropout among girls in these districts. Hence, both the government and the NGOs feel that it is necessary to ensure that every girl continues in school which, in turn, helps curb early marriages.
“From 2016, we have taken several initiatives to improvise and increase the enrolment of girls and we did achieve it. But, it is also crucial to take certain steps to restrict the dropouts. We distributed cycles among girls in rural schools and also launched programmes like self-defence, cultural education, etc. We would also take up few more initiatives in the coming days to achieve zero dropout,” said Sandhya Rani, Commissioner of School Education.
The teachers of government schools in rural areas opine that the government has to take certain measures to help girls from discontinuing school education.
“Child marriages and financial burden are curtailing girls from pursuing studies. Majority of the families in villages treat girls as burden and marry them off at an early age,” informed M Vasavi, headmistress of a girls’ high school in Ongole.
On the other hand, the government has been lethargic towards getting a brand ambassador for promoting girl child education. The Women and Child Welfare officials confirmed that no celebrity is coming forward to be the brand ambassador.
However, the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) successfully roped in chess champion Koneru Humpi to do the act for ‘Swachh Sarvekshan’ initiative.
Similarly, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu roped in Bollywood actor couple Ajay Devgn and Kajol for promoting Andhra Pradesh Tourism.
“Since 2015, we are trying to engage a famous woman personality for promoting girl child welfare schemes. We also consulted sports personalities like Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu who are international badminton players, but somehow it didn’t work out. It’s high time the higher officials or the ministry take up this issue,” said Ramulu, joint director of Women and Child Welfare Department.