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Bengal: School Dropouts Rise, Number of Candidates in Secondary Exam Falls by 4 Lakh Due to Pandemic

Among the examinees, the number of boys (2,90,172) is very less than girls (3,58,000).

Representational use only.image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Kolkata: Last year, 10,98,775 students took part in the secondary examination in the West Bengal, while this year, 6,98,028 students are taking their exams, according to information from the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE). That is a fall of more than 4,00,000 students in one year. Among the examinees, the number of boys is very less than girls. In this year's secondary examination, the number of boys is 2,90,172 and the number of girls is 3,58,000.

He Madhyamiks or secondary examinations will start on February 23. According to the information from the board, 2,00,000 candidates are not appearing in the secondary examination even after registering their names. The board claims this has happened due to the effect of the pandemic. According to other sources, the number of candidates has fallen due to drop-outs.

WBBSE President Ramanuja Gangopadhyay said: “This has happened due to the pandemic. Many people don't take the exam voluntarily because they are not prepared. Many could not pass the test. Due to Covid, there have been several school dismissals. So, the number of candidates is likely to be less.”

However, counter questions to this claim by the Board president have been raised. Many people say during the pandemic, online education was not conducted properly.

In this context, the All Bengal Teachers Association (ABTA) General Secretary Sukumar Pyne told People's Reporter: "There is a shortage of teachers in many schools in the state. Where the student-teacher ratio is supposed to be 30:1. In many places, it is not. There are such schools in the city of Kolkata where the number of students is 280 and the number of teachers is 54. Again, the number of teachers is less in proportion to the number of students in Jangalmahal. Many have taken transfers in exchange for money through the Utsashree portal.”

Pyne also said that "in the past, several students have dropped out of school. Many have dropped out due to poverty. Also, lack of infrastructure in government schools. As a result, common people are turning toward the private education system. There are about two lakh teacher vacancies in the state but they are not being filled.”

It is to be noted that in response to a question regarding school dropouts in Parliament on Thursday, Minister of State for Education Subhash Sarkar said the number of primary school dropouts was high in five states of the country -- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. The total number of primary school dropouts in these five states is 9,30,531. Out of these students, 5,02,771 are boys and 4,27,728 are girls.

According to the statistics presented by the Union Minister, the number of school dropouts in class 10 is 3,22,418. So, the number of boys is 1,94,000 and the number of girls is 1,28,000. The top five states in this regard are Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat, and Assam.

In September last year, a Central government Project Approval Board (PAB) statistic revealed that the dropout rate in class 10 in West Bengal is over 15%. Which is higher than the national average (14.6%). The dropout rate has increased significantly in 10 districts.

This year, the number of examinees in Madhyamik is 40,353. The number of examination centres is 2,867. Whereas last year the number of examination centres was 4,194. This is the first time that police will be deployed for security at the test centre. The board has made it mandatory to install CCTV cameras in every centre this time. Parents are prohibited from entering the exam centre. According to board sources, parents enter the centre every year on the first day of the examination.

This year the board has also launched the Madhya app. Board staff officers will keep in touch with each other through the app. The supervisor assigned to the examination centre will be contacted through this app. The app will be tested from February 17 to 21. The question papers are kept under police guard at a total of 373 places across the state.

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