Odisha's Subarnapur administration lays counselling bridge for dropouts to reach schools

In March this year, the Subarnapur administration started a sustained campaign to bring dropouts like Sunita back to schools and stop the rampant practice of child marriage which is the linked to it.

Published: 24th July 2022 10:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th July 2022 10:24 AM   |  A+A-

District officials and Collector addressing a meeting on child marriages

District officials and Collector addressing a meeting on child marriages. (Photo| EPS)

Express News Service

SUBARNAPUR: Sunitha (name changed), a Class IX student of Kuleshwar High School at Dunguripali under Bisimunda gram panchayat, had appeared the summative assessment-1 last year, but in January, she stopped going to school and did not even appear for the summative assessment-2 in April.

When school headmaster Babula Sahu inquired, he found out that her mother is suffering from kidney ailment and her father, after an accident, is not able to work regularly at a rice mill. Sunita had to give up education to support her family but a few months later, she allegedly eloped with a boy.

The school administration stepped in and traced her. Teachers then counselled her multiple times and were successful in bringing her back to school. A summative assessment-2 exam was specially arranged for her and she got promoted to Class X. She has started coming to school now, said the headmaster.

In March this year, the Subarnapur administration started a sustained campaign to bring dropouts like Sunita back to schools and stop the rampant practice of child marriage which is the linked to it. According to the National Family Health Survey-5, early marriages among girls in rural Subarnapur was 22.4 per cent.

Realising this, the administration decided to conduct a household survey in 2020-21 to find out the number of students out of schools. The survey found 2,701 such children - 980 girls and 1,721 boys.

Also, the dropout rate was a staggering high after age 14 with 2,635 out of the total 2,701 in six blocks of the district. Sonepur block was leading with 702 dropouts. Collector Aboli Sunil Naravane said while seeking to root out the cause of child marriage, the administration found it is largely linked to school dropout.

As a part of the survey, school heads and teachers were directed to visit the parents and dropout children and counsel them to return to school. Separate administrative teams were formed to prevent child marriages, counsel parents and their children to continue education for a better future, she added.

The administration efforts have started yielding results. At least five girl child marriages have been prevented in the recent months and they are being counselled since the last one month to pursue education again.

Collector Naravane said 15 dropouts - 10 girls and five boys - have been readmitted to schools. "Our immediate target is to bring all the dropout girls back to schools," said the Collector.

Yet another step towards zero dropout for girls between the age group 15 and 18 by the administration is exposing girls to vocational education. Girls who cleared matriculation exams but could not secure a seat in colleges were taken for an exposure visit to ITI earlier this month by administrative officials.Many girls will soon enroll themselves while some have already done it.



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