Contrary to the state government’s claims, the sorry state of education in Odisha came to the fore after Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan presented a report on the education sector in Parliament. As per the report, the dropout rate among class-X students is about 50 percent in Odisha.
While replying to a starred question about dropout rates in the country, the Union Minister of Education presented the report in the Parliament in which it was stated that in the 2021-22 academic year, 49.90 percent of students in Odisha dropped out at the Class-X level. According to the report, the dropout rate at the class X level has been increasing every year. In 2018-19, the dropout rate was 12.8 percent while it further went up to 38.35 percent in 2019-20 and rose to 39.4 percent in 2020-21.
5T vs PM SHRI
The data presents a gloomy picture of the education scenario in Odisha when the state government claims that there has been a massive overhaul of the education infrastructure under the 5T initiative.
Odisha is reportedly top in the country in terms of the dropout rate among Class-X students. While this report has put a question mark on the education system in the state, politics has erupted over the issue.
Taking a critical view of the alarming dropout rate, the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) in Odisha lambasted the state government for not implementing the PM SHRI Yojana, which could have brought about a revolutionary change in the education scenario.
CM & defacto CM have much to answer
BJP National Vice-President, Baijayant Panda vented out his anger over the sorry state of affairs in Odisha and sought a reply from the Chief Minister. Taking to his official X handle, Panda wrote, “Deeply saddened at yet another “#1ranking”achieved by my home state. At 49.9% Odisha has the nation’s highest rate of school dropouts in Class X.” Panda further said, “After 24 continuous years, the party in govt, the CM and the defacto CM have much to answer.”
BJP spokesperson Anil Biswal slammed the state government over its school transformation claim and said on a satirical note, "The state government did not implement the PM SHRI as a result of which Odisha lost over Rs 1600 crore. What kind of transformation has taken place in the high schools when the dropout rate stands at 49.9 percent? Only corruption is being promoted in the name of 5T which is facilitating the contractors to mint money.”
The Congress also took a swipe at the state government over the startling decline in the education sector.
Odisha Congress chief Sarat Pattanayak observed, “No matter what you give to children, be it bicycles or eggs, schools lack quality education. Such a deplorable condition has cropped up in the education sector. The government has failed while the dropout rate is going up.”
Ruling BJD leader, Padmanabh Behera countered the opposition's allegations and questioned the basis of the Central government's report. “Every village has primary and middle English schools. Even some panchayats have three to four high schools. Giving bicycles and uniforms to students is creating an impact. We have no idea about on what basis they have made this report.”
Govt should accept the reality
However, the ground reality reflects something different from the government's claims.
Jitu Pahan a student of Khalikote in Ganjam had to drop out due to the dire circumstances of his family. He left for Surat in search of jobs. Scores of others like Jitu in the district have abandoned their studies.
Educationist Raghunath Panda said that the government should accept the report and the reality."The government should provide an adequate number of teachers and necessary infrastructure to ensure quality education,” he observed.