Sharp increase in dropout rate of Dalit students in Kerala
- Highest dropout rate is recorded from Wayanad and Idukki
- The two districts constitute more than half of the tribal population in Kerala
- As many as 3,975 Dalit students decided to stay away from school in 2015
At a time when Kerala boasts of having achieved 100% primary education status, the state Education Department has reported a sharp increase in the dropout rates of Dalit students in the state. Educational experts blame the lack of coordination and poor implementation of schemes by the government for the rising number of dropouts from schools.
The highest dropout rate was recorded in the border districts of Wayanad and Idukki that constitute 51.48% of the tribal population in Kerala.
As many as 1,590 students belonging to Scheduled Castes and 2, 385 Scheduled Tribe students dropped out from schools in 2015. This year alone, 127 students belonging to Dalit communities have left classrooms, the report said. A total of 6, 35, 373 Scheduled Castes and 83, 149 Scheduled Tribes students attend schools in the state.
The report also states that in most cases, family issues forced children to withdraw from school. Parental ill health often necessitated elder girls to stay back at home to take care of home affairs and take care of younger siblings while boys often dropped out of school in search of work. Alcohol abuse, illicit brewing of alcohol and nomadic life led by the family were other issues. Some of them also left school after parents failed to buy textbooks and other study materials and owing to lack of transportation facility to attend school. The academic backwardness of parents is yet another issue.
Above all, tribal students often find it difficult to understand the language followed in school. Though state government introduced textbooks in tribal dialect, to encourage tribal students to attend schools, it did not help to reduce the dropout rate.
Top reasons for student dropout
- Mental retardation 20.9%
- Family issues 17.1%
- Financial 13.6%
- Child labour 8.1%
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare Department and Education Department said the government had launched efforts to solve the issue.
Experts in the area blame official apathy, lack of coordination and poor implementation of schemes for increasing rate of dropouts. They also said the government failed to ensure basic amenities in the 19 residential schools under SC/ST Department.