Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Amid the high dropout rate in the annual Matriculation examination, educationists and guardians in Odisha have expressed their concerns. In reply to BJP MLA Naba Charan Majhi’s question in the Assembly, School and Mass Education Minister, Samir Ranjan Dash informed that as many as 5,32,603 candidates had filled up forms for the Matriculation examination this year. However, a total of 16,548 candidates did not appear in the MIL examination on the first day. While 16,370 candidates gave a miss to English on the second day, the number of absentees in Sanskrit on the third day was 16,520. As many as 16,487 and 16,425 candidates did not appear for science and social science subjects, respectively on the following days. The highest number of 16,679 candidates did not appear for the mathematics examination.

Though the number of dropout students is alarming, Minister Das said, the dropout rates have decreased this year in comparison to the previous year.

“Those who did not appear in the Summative-1 examination, have not appeared in the Summative-2 examination also. Apart from them, some other students might be there. Our department will take the matter seriously and take different measures to minimize the dropout rate further,” said Dash.

The State government has admitted that over 14,000 students have not appeared in the Matriculation examination this year, and as per educationists, it is definitely a matter of concern.

While 12,955 students did not appear in the Matriculation examination in 2018, the number was 9,502 in the subsequent year. In 2020, the number of dropout students was 11,645. As many as 4,412 candidates did not appear in the annual board examination the following year. In 2022, as many as 44,245 students didn’t take the exam, which was the highest ever for Odisha.

As per experts and guardians, the reason for high dropout rates could be attributed to migration, acute poverty, child marriage, and severe financial crisis.

“Most of the students from under-developed areas are not appearing in the annual Matriculation examination due to severe poverty and other reasons. Government officials should spread awareness among the students and guardians in those areas by paying regular visits to their houses,” said Krushna Chandra Pati, President of Utkal Guardians’ Association.

“The increase in dropout rates could be due to fake admissions. Some school authorities might have done fake admissions and filled up the forms of fake students as they don’t want to be deprived of various grants provided by the government. It should be investigated properly,” said educationist, Satyakam Mishra.

Meanwhile, in a bid to curb the dropout rate at the secondary level, the State government is doing a door-to-door survey to identify the students.