Schools in Goa witness gender disparity

Posted on 2009-01-21
PANAJI — Although Goa boasts of one of the highest literacy rates - between 82 and 83 per cent - in the country, the state has some gender disparity in education in favour of boys, in the school age population in Goa, as informed by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) for Goa. “However, it is not very pronounced,” adds the survey.
“In all, 83 per cent of girls aged 6-17 years attend school as compared to 87 per cent of boys in the same age group,” the NFHS-3 informs, pointing out, “In both, urban and rural areas, gender disparity in education in favour of boys is 2-4 percentage points among children in 6-10 years and 11-14 years age groups, but increases to 5-6 percentage points among children aged 15-17 years.”
Interestingly, school attendance of the children in Goa is the fourth highest of all the states in India and there is very little disparity by residence and gender, states the survey.
The NFHS-3 further maintains that although 95 to 96 per cent of primary school age children – in both urban and rural areas – aged between 6 and 10 years attend school in Goa, only 41 per cent students continue to attend school by the time they reach SSC.
The study as carried out by the International Institute for Population Sciences points out that the school attendance is only somewhat lower among children in the age group 11-14 years (91 per cent) and furthermore, by age 15-17 years, only 59 per cent of children attend school in the state. “Nonetheless, even in this age group, there is no differential in attendance rates by residence,” it adds.
“Socio-economic problems may not be the number one reason why children dropout of school in Goa,” says a psychiatrist, who runs a counselling centre for students. “Learning disorders are a cause of depression and behaviour problems, which lead to poor self-image and make children leave the school.”
It was already announced by the state government that on an average about 40 to 42 per cent of the students dropout by the time they reach standard X, much before this fact was endorsed by the NFHS-3 released in the state, last week.
The director of education, Dr Celsa Pinto, however had clarified that as per the records of the DoE, around 2,000 students annually dropout of the schools around the state at the high school level and seek admission at the national open schools in Goa.
“We have observed that such students even appear for the SSC examination through the national open schools,” she had maintained, adding that the option of the pre-vocational courses, planned by the DoE would now allow such students to remain within the general education system thus reducing the number of school dropouts substantially.
There are estimated 2,079 schools in Goa, a primary school serving an area of 3 sq km whereas a secondary school serving an area of 9.9 sq km. A mid-day meal scheme and incentives to students like free text books, uniforms and raincoats, besides bicycles to girl students succeeding in getting promoted to secondary level were also introduced under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan so as to boost enrolment and curb school dropouts.
Goa spends almost 12 per cent of its expenditure on general education, just as the school dropout rate has stabilised at 40 to 42 per cent during past several years, with this figure much higher among the students belonging to the scheduled caste. The director of education, citing the reasons for dropout students had stated that strictness on the part of some of the government-aided schools as far as promotion of their students to the higher classes is concerned, could be one of the causes.