Thursday, February 16, 2006

Worryingly high school drop out rates in India and Bangladesh-Save the Children

Worryingly high school drop out rates in India and Bangladesh

Children in class at Rasapettai Government primary and middle school, Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu. The fishing village of Rasapettai did not suffer any fatalities in the Tsunami of 2004 but did lose boats and fishing nets. Save the Children and local partners LEAD (League for Education and Development) have been active in promoting child rights and education in Rasapettai since the Tsunami.

The E-9 meeting of Education Ministers from nine of the world's most populous countries - Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan - is taking place from 13th-15th February in Monterrey, Mexico.

Save the Children UK is calling on the UK government to commit substantially more resources to improving the quality of primary education in countries where large numbers of children are missing out on education, and to use its international influence to ensure that other donors do the same. This money could go towards improving teacher recruitment and teacher training, and to devoting more resources to reaching those children excluded from education.

More aid to education must go hand in hand with action from country governments to improve the quality of education for children so that they stay in school. Teachers should be trained to move away from rote learning towards interactive teaching methods which give children the skills they need. Furthermore, education must been made more relevant to children's needs, for example by making the curriculum relevant to local work opportunities, and by providing primary education in local languages.

In Bangladesh, statistics (UNDP, 2005) show that:

*80% of primary school age children (6-10 years old) go to school.
*Only 54% are still in school by the time they reach 10 years old.
*Drop out rates from primary school were 33 percent in 2004.

The dropout rate for ethnic minority children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, an area with a large proportion of ethnic minority people, is much higher than the estimated national rate with more than 60 percent of children dropping out especially in the early years (Asian Development Bank, 2001).

In Bangladesh, among those children who are not enrolled and those who have dropped out, a significant number come from poor households and live in rural areas, urban slums, and areas with high populations of ethnic minorities. The reasons for the lack of quality in education services include lack of well-trained teachers, particularly in remote areas where the poorest and most marginalised children live. On average there are 66 students for every teacher in government primary schools (UNDP, 2005).

Ethnic minority children are often turned away from school by teachers and administrators because they do not speak fluent Bangla (Save the Children's 2005 situation analysis on basic education in Bangladesh).

In India, statistics (UNESCO 2006) show that:

*The net enrolment rate rose to 88% in 2002
*Only 61% are still in school by the time they reach age 10
*Drop out rate is 39%.
*There are vast differences within states and between social groups,
with very low rates of enrolment reported for socially disadvantaged groups such as scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. 50% of scheduled caste and 56% of scheduled tribe children drop out of school.

In India, a recent report showed that 44% of children between the ages of 7 and 10 could not read even a simple paragraph. Teaching is still done by traditional rote learning methods, corporal punishment is rife, and children are often taught in a language they do not understand (Annual Status of Education, 2006).

Copyright:International Save the Children Alliance

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