Where did 1.55 lakh Maharsahtra school kids disappear

As many as 1.55 lakh kids presumably dropped out of elementary school (Std I-VIII), that too within just a year, according to the Economic Survey of Maharashtra, tabled in the legislature last week.

According to the survey, 1,60,16,754 children currently study in elementary schools across the state, as compared to 1,61,72,420 children a year ago. This covers over 1.05 lakh schools and includes both the government-run and private institutions.

Nevertheless, enrolment in the secondary and higher secondary schools (Std IX-XII) has gone up from 61.81 lakh to 64.14 lakh in the same period, stated the survey.

The elementary school enrolment saw an upward trend till a few years ago, due to a rise in population and literacy level. It gradually became stagnant in the last four years, barring a little decline in 2012-13. Such a sharp decline, however, has been registered for the first time. The education department, meanwhile, maintains a mysterious silence over the issue. Education minister Vinod Tawde didnot answer the query posed by this paper. This led to speculations ranging from authenticity of the data to the alarming increase in dropout rate in schools.

The sudden decline raises doubts over veracity of the data. Separate figures for public and private schools would have thrown some light, but since they are not available, we cannot really conclude anything. The drop is expected only in the government schools due to various reasons, said a principal of the government school.

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