Home / Education / News /  Trends in school enrolment and dropout levels

The Union budget speech recognized the need to measure learning outcomes in schools. An amendment has been introduced to the Right to Education (RTE) Act to permit detentions after class V and class VIII after a test, remedial education and a retest. In light of this, the following data captures some trends with respect to enrolment, drop-out, and transition rates across various levels of education.

While universal enrolment has been achieved at the elementary level (class I-VIII), the enrolment consistently falls with successive levels of education. Gross enrolment ratio (GER) is the student enrolment as a proportion of the corresponding eligible age group in a given year. GER in class I-V reduced from 114% in 2008-09 to 100% in 2014-15. The above-100% enrolment rate in 2008-09 indicates that students enrolled in class I-V included those younger than six or older than 10 years. In 2014-15, enrolment in class I-V was about 100%, which signals a more age-appropriate class composition.

India’s enrolment rate in primary education (class I-V) is comparable to that of developed countries. However, it falls behind these countries after class VI. In higher education, India’s enrolment rate stands at 23%, as against about 87% in the US, 57% in the UK and 39% in China.

The dropout rate peaks at the secondary level (class IX-X) at 17%, as compared to 4% in elementary school (class I-VIII) and 2% in upper secondary school (class XI-XII). This is also reflected in the transition rates in school education where the lowest transition rate is at the secondary level (from class X to class XI) at 69%. Once children are enrolled, transition rates indicate whether they are able to advance to higher classes. A transition rate below 100% indicates that the students are held back or have dropped out of school.

Under the RTE Act, a child cannot be expelled or detained until the completion of elementary education—i.e., until class VIII. This may explain the differential trends between the enrolment, dropout and transition rates for elementary education and secondary education.

According to NSSO data (71st round) on reasons for dropping out (for the 5-29 age group), the key reasons for female students dropping out is due to domestic activities, lack of interest in education and marriage. On the other hand, the key reasons for male students dropping out are economic activities, lack of interest in education and financial constraints.

Sources: School Education in India: Flash Statistics, 2015-16, District Information System for Education; Key Indicators of Social Consumption in India: Education, NSS (71st Round); Education Statistics at a Glance, 2016, Ministry of Human Resource Development; PRS.

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