Has Girl education lost its way in Odisha?

Bhubaneswar: It seems that the nationwide campaign ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ has failed to generate desired results in Odisha as over 55,000 adolescent girls are out of school in the State.

Such startling facts emerged from a baseline survey conducted by Odisha Women and Child Development department and Mission Shakti.

However, School and Mass Education department is not ready to accept the findings of the Women and Child Development department as the former claims that only 1,060 adolescent girls were not attending schools by September 30 last year.

The contradiction in data between government departments clearly indicates why welfare schemes fail to meet their objectives in Odisha.

“We had sought a preliminary report from districts to ascertain the number of out of school girls in the state. The information was shared with School and Mass Education department for necessary action,” said Rashmiranjan Nayak, joint secretary of Women and Child Development department.

Meet 12-year-old Lalita Golari, who is a school dropout from Lamtaput in Koraput district. The girl had dropped out of Changudipada School after studying till standard V soon after her father’s death.

Golari is now working as a labourer to make both ends meet and support her family. Not only Golari, several other girls across Odisha share the same story.

As per the findings of School and Mass Education department, the Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) was universalised in the State from April 1, 2018.

A baseline survey, conducted through field functionaries of Women and Child Development and Mission Shakti department in all 30 districts suggested that, number of girls to be covered under SAG during the financial year 2018-19 is 55,868 which includes out of school girls in the age group of 11 to 14 years.

As per the guidelines, the criteria for defining out of school is never enrolled; enrolled but never attended and dropouts.

There are nearly 10,599 out of the school adolescent girls in Koraput, followed by 8,899 girls in Nabarangpur and nearly 5,585 girls in Malkangiri district.

“We are even surprised over such huge discrepancies in the report as there were only 1,060 girls between the age group of 11 to 14 years who were out of school as per our survey last year. We will discuss the matter with the officials of Women and Child Development department,” said School and Mass Education minister, Badri Narayan Patra.