Poverty and language barrier increasing student drop out rates

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JHAPA, March 28: In the last one decade, over 100 students passed out from Krishna Primary School of Mechinagar, Jhapa. But not even 10 of them might have completed the secondary level, according to Dashrath Khadiya, a teacher in the school. “Huge numbers of students drop out midway. As soon as they get through primary level, they search for job. Sometimes, they do not complete even the primary level and start working in furniture or other shops,” he said. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Few schools in Mechinagar report any better situation. Dropout rate of students, basically in marginalized communities, is alarming.According to teachers, poverty and the lack of awareness is the basic reason of the low turn out of students in secondary school. As soon as girls are old enough to help in domestic chores, they are discouraged to attend school, he said adding that boys are sent out earn for the family.”Lack of proper guardianship, domestic responsibilities, the need for being a caretaker of younger siblings along with non vocational nature of education are few of the reasons behind high dropout of students from primary and lower secondary levels,” said Damodar Dhungel, a teacher at Kabishiromani Higher Secondary School. “In poor communities, children are under pressure to earn from the age of 12, 13,” he added.Students at Krishna Primary School in their short discussion with Republica on Sunday quickly spelled out names of their friends who have stopped coming to school. A teacher at the school, Kumar Thakur, added that even those who are excellent in studies are also forced to engage in labor instead of furthering their studies. “The greatest reason behind this is poverty,” he remarked.School inspector Hariprasad Mishra strongly agrees to this. Even after spending funds under several heads as part of the education for all initiative has not been able to bear results, he noted. “To ensure that children come to school, job should be ensured for their parents. They should get income generation opportunities to sustain their family,” he said adding that a family which cannot afford proper food and cloth for children cannot afford their education. “In such families, children are bound to earn for themselves and here, there’s no dearth of poor communities,” he said.According to Lok Bahadur Dahal, a school resource person in Kakarbhitta, higher dropout rates of students is seen mostly in the settlements of the indigenous people. Both the lack of awareness among parents and financial crunch push the children to labor in small age, he said. “Laborers children have the least chance to complete school education as they are made to either take care of household affairs or earn for the family through labor,” he said.Language of instruction is another vital issue behind higher drop out rates. Children from Rajbanshi, Gangain, Santhal, Muslim and Kisan communities, among others, find it difficult to understand Nepali language, the common medium of instruction in school. As there’s language barrier between teachers and students, the latter lack interest in studies. Dahal admitted that language gap is also playing huge role in keeping children out of school.Elaborating on this, Babadev Rajbanshi, a teacher at Dilliraj Higher Secondary School of Taghandubba, Jhapa said that his school lost over half number of its students due to language barrier in just one year. “Last year 45 children were admitted to this school in class one. Gradually, their number shrunk and at the end of the year only 17 children were left,” he said. “Later we noted that most of the kids were from Muslim community. They find it very hard to understand Nepali language,” he added.Interestingly, government reports do not reflect this pathetic situation in the education sector. According to government officials, there are many programs under implementation to draw children to school and decrease dropout rates.”Our reports indicate that things are improving. As compared to the past, we see minimum dropout students,” said Dilliram Luitel, district education officer of Jhapa. He stressed that the government provides free education, stationeries, uniform and also mid-day meal to students. Similarly, some children are also given hostel facilities, he added. “That’s why we have noticed drop in the drop out rates of students in the recent years then in the past,” Luitel claimed.According to Luitel, dropout rate of students till secondary level is 5 to 6 percent now while it was around 20 percent in the past. “It is a different matter that students might fail examination or may not appear in school regularly. But there is a policy of not failing students till class three, this is also adding to success of primary school education,” he claimed.

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