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School dropout rate among girls highest in Bengal


KOLKATA:  Half of Bengal’s girls aged 15 to 24 have stopped attending schools and are at home without vocational training. A survey by the Union government reveals that these girls are working in households rather than completing their education or taking skill-training courses to earn a living.

When the figure of such girls in Bengal is 49.9 per cent, it is 43.8 per cent in the country. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation decided to conduct a National Sample Survey from January to December 2020 but the deadline was extended to December 2021 because of the Covid pandemic. The number of girls sitting at home is much higher in rural areas than in urban pockets.

Many girls and boys were forced to leave school and work as migrants because of the Covid pandemic, according to educationists. Several of them believe that the one-time grant for girls turned 18 under the state government’s Kanyashree scheme may also have contributed to the situation and early and underage marriages.

The number of girls getting married before they turn 18 is the highest in West Bengal, according to a survey conducted last year. Of 100 such girls, 45 of them get married before they are 21 years old.

The Kanyashree scheme offers a one-time grant of Rs 25,000 to girls who have turned 25 and come from families earning up to Rs 1,20,000 a year. When a girl has lost both parents or is physically disabled (40 per cent disability) or an inmate of a juvenile justice home, the family bar does not apply.

During the pandemic, many girls and boys stopped pursuing their education as many families could not afford smartphones for online classes. Many families decided to get their daughters married with the help of the government’s one-time grant. Due to the parents’ inability to continue their daughters’ studies, many underage marriages were reported to the district administration.

According to state education department records, the number of Class X board examinees in 2023 decreased by 2 lakh due to the pandemic. There were examples of underage girls fleeing from family captivity to avoid their marriage and reporting to the local police or administration.

“We will study the report thoroughly to ascertain the exact reasons behind the girls sitting at home and are engaged in household works without availing government’s schemes for vocational training programmes,’’ said an official of the state government’s women and child welfare department.   (AIR NEWS)

10 Days ago