Delhi: 40% of students who fail class IX dropping out

In the last few years, the pass percentage of students in class IX at Delhi’s government schools has hovered between 50% to 60%, and a large percentage of students who are not able to pass at this level are dropping out of school. On the last day of an education conference held by the Delhi government, this was recognised as one of its greatest challenges.

A deep dive into those who could not pass class IX in 2018-19 throws up a number of findings. Out of a total of 2,71,400 students, 42% could not pass. Alarmingly, 40% of those who did not pass dropped out of school.

At the conclusion of the seven-day international education conference deliberating on contemporary challenges in schooling, the Delhi government narrowed down on the gaps that it will have to deal with “in mission mode”.

A presentation made by education officials on class IX results over the years showed there has been a progressive decline in pass percentage from 55.96% in 2013-14 to 50.78% in 2015-16, following which it has increased gradually to 57.80% in 2018-19.

While the Delhi government has been celebrating improvements in pass percentages in classes X and XII in CBSE board examinations, class IX results have been a persistent issue. Up till this grade, students are passed automatically to the next grade due to the no-detention policy.

Education Minister Manish Sisodia the statistics on dropouts should be responded to with urgency. “These students must be traced. We need to apply a two-fold strategy. They need to be brought back and made to benefit from skilling and vocational training. Secondly, we can also look at the kind of work they might have engaged in and learned during the time they were not in the system, and can look at bringing in skilling in that direction.”


2-fold strategy

Education Minister Manish Sisodia said the situation needs a two-fold strategy. One, students who have dropped out need to be traced and made to benefit from vocational training. Second, the kind of work they may have engaged in while they were out of the school system could be identified and skilling could be undertaken in that direction.

Of the students who could not pass class IX that year, only 10% went on to join open schooling through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS); 38% passed class IX the next year, while 12% failed again.

Another finding of the analysis was that of the students who could not pass in 2018-19, 26% had failed the grade for the second time, while in the case of 2.9% students, it was the third or even the fourth time. The students who could not pass class IX were found to be lacking in foundational literacy and numeracy skills. In class VIII, 59% of these students could not read a story in Hindi and 50% could not do division.

Like past analyses of government school results have shown, in class IX too, mathematics is a weak point — 19% failed only in maths, and 14.7% failed in science and maths. A discussion that emerged was the possibility of looking at a basic maths-style exam — as introduced by the CBSE for class X board exam — in class IX to enable more students to continue in the system. “About 80% of our students do not opt for maths in class XI and XII, and now they have the option of writing a basic maths exam in class X. This is something we can think about,” said deputy director education (exam branch) Mukta Soni.

Apart from resolving to build on foundational literacy and numeracy, another focus of the Delhi government is on increasing parental engagement with School Management Committees (SMCs). A report presented at the conference highlighted that 63% of parents are not aware of SMCs, which are supposed to be representative bodies of parents, teachers, a social worker and an MLA representative.

“I think what we need to do is increase the number of parents engaging with SMCs, beyond the 10-odd members who are part of them, maybe through other committees. SMCs were to be a bridge between the functioning of schools and parents, but now there seems to be a gap between parents and SMCs,” said Sisodia.

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