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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: None other than the great Chanakya had once said "Education is the best friend. And education beats the beauty and the youth."

But the hard reality is Odisha fares poor in the proportion of educated persons nationally. Rural Odisha bears the brunt. Nationally, the State languishes at 5th from the bottom in rural educated persons.

While Odisha has literacy rate of a healthy 77.3 per cent, the latest NSSO report titled 'Household Social Consumption on Education in India' puts the glare on how poorly educated is the State. Educated doesn't mean higher studies. Because, for the survey, the report considered a person educated, if one has completed secondary level education and above.

And the shocker is, only 30.6 per cent males in rural Odisha are educated. The numbers for the rural females stood lower at 21.3 per cent. While the overall educated person proportion in rural Odisha was 26 per cent, the national average stood at around 31 per cent. Rural Odisha is thus ahead of states like MP, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Jharkhand.

Though in urban areas, Odisha with 59.3 per cent educated persons fared better, the State still failed to figure among the top-15 educated states nationally.  

A glance at the report pops up a big question. Is higher education becoming unaffordable in the State? The big numbers allude so.

The net attendance ratio of males in rural Odisha up to upper primary or middle level education stood at a healthy 76.6 per cent, but it drops to around 66 per cent at secondary level (Standard X), 39.2 per cent at higher secondary level (+2 level) and 12.4 per cent at post higher secondary level (from graduate onwards).

In the case of rural females, the numbers are more distressing. From a high net attendance ratio of 91.3 per cent at primary level, 76.3 per cent at upper primary/middle level, it drops to mere 7.4 per at post higher secondary level.

Even, the numbers are not quite enthusing in the realms of urban Odisha. The net attendance ratio of urban males at the level of post higher secondary education stood at mere 24 per cent. The number for urban females is estimated lower at 21.2 per cent.

As a consequence, Odisha has the lowest net attendance ratio among males in both rural and urban areas nationally. When State's overall ratio is 14.2 per cent, the national average is  higher at 21 per cent.

In the case of overall females, Odisha has the 2nd lowest net attendance ratio in the country. Also, when Odisha has the second highest rural males dropout rate in the country after West Bengal, it finished 3rd in case of rural females.  The rural male dropout rate in State has been estimated at 22.5 per cent and the rate for females at 23.5 per cent.

The bottom line: While an analysis reveals that the average expenditure on general education in Odisha is lower than the national average, still the higher dropout rates and poor net attendance ratio show the poor expenditure capacity of people in Odisha.

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