Trends in Dropout Rate at Elementary Level by Dr. ABL Srivastava

About Dr. A. B. L. Srivastava

Dr. (Professor) A. B. L Srivastava, born on 24th August 1934, is one of the surviving stalwarts of educational statistics in India; he can indeed be the father of educational statistics in India. Dr. Srivastava is a Ph.D. (Statistics) from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, India, and has done his Masters in Statistics from Lucknow University, Uttar Pradesh.

More specifically, the area of specialization of Dr. Srivastava is Educational Statistics; Sample Surveys; Educational Measurement; Research & Evaluation.

Dr. Asrivastava has vast experience working in the field of education, and his different capacities, have contributed significantly towards popularising educational statistics in India in general and amongst the national, state, and district-level officers engaged in educational planning in particular.

Dr. Srivastava worked as a Professor & Head Department of Measurement Evaluation Survey and Data Processing at NCERT for several years and was instrumental in launching the All India School Education Survey at NCERT; he was UNESCO Expert in Educational Statistics & Planning in Uganda, Saudi Arabia and also worked in Mauritius; also had short consultancy assignments in Bangladesh, Sudan, Russia, and some other countries.

Till recently, he was long associated as Chief Consultant, Research Evaluation & Studies Unit, Ed.CIL’s Technical Support Group for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) of the Government of India launched large research studies, especially studies on out-of-school and dropouts. He is loved by his admirers across social sectors across India.

Dropout Rates in Schools in India:An Analysis of UDISE+ 2021-22 Data

Few know that Dr. ABL Srivastava was long back associated with NIEPA in its previous avatar as Statistician, but later, he used to consulted by NIEPA regularly. He was also the member of the Advisory Committee of the Department of EMIS, NIEPA. Of late, he completed a Study on Trends in Dropout Rates at Elementary Level. Dr. Srivastava agreed to undertake the study in NIEPAs response to promoting the use of DISE/UDISE data.

Major Recommendations

In his article, by taking examples, Dr. Srivastava presents various methods to compute the dropout rate at the elementary level of education, which is exclusively based on DISE/UDISE data. Dr. Srivastava opined that in order to arrive at reliable values of Dropout rates, it is important that the quality and coverage of DISE data on enrolment and repeaters improves. He summarized specific suggestions and recommendations in this regard are being presented below:

  • The data on late entrants in grade 1 and lateral entrants in other grades should be collected and analyzed so that in the calculation of the dropout rate, adjustments can be made for such cases. At present, in some states like Kerala, it appears that the dropout rates are negative only because of ignoring lateral entry in different grades. As the RTE Act of 2009 has made provision for entry into school in age-appropriate grades, the children who had remained out of school for any reason can take admission as new entrants in any grade for which they are eligible according to age.
  • RTE Act also provides for Special Training of Dropout children to make them fit for continuing their studies in a regular school so that they are able to complete education up to grade 8. DISE should collect data about enrolment in Special Training programs. Such data should be analyzed separately to assess dropout rates from Special Training programs and also their re-entry into regular schools.
  • Efforts should be made to have complete coverage of all schools that have any primary or upper primary class. Particularly the coverage of schools with upper primary classes and, in particular, class 8 should be ensured. As most of the upper primary classes are in secondary schools in many states, these schools are now covered under U-DISE. It is important that grade-wise enrolment and repeaters data is available for all the grades irrespective of the type and level of school in which the children are studying.
  • There are recognized private unaided schools that do not provide DISE data easily. Collection of at least enrolment and repeaters data from such schools should be ensured.   The children in unrecognized private schools, if any, will have to be treated as out of school.
  • Data should be collected on successful completers of primary and upper primary education. For the calculation of CDR or Retention rate, it is appropriate to use the criterion of completion and not just reaching the last grade or getting promoted to the first grade of the upper primary level. This data can be collected for the previous school year when the data of DISE were collected with 30th September as the reference date.
  • In the case of the states that have negative or very low dropout rates or very high dropout rates, it is desirable to conduct special studies to find out the reasons for that. The studies may help in taking steps to improve the quality of data and get more reliable indicators of dropping out and retention.
  • Along with the steps to be taken to improve the quality of data and coverage of schools, the method of calculating grade-wise dropout rates and average dropout rates for primary and elementary levels of education should be standardized. The data on repeaters, late entrants in grade 1, and lateral entrants in other grades should be made use of in the calculation of Dropout rates or Retention rates. Also, the Reconstructed Cohort method should be applied for calculating these rates, making the necessary modification to take into account the lateral entrants and late entrants.
  • The states should calculate the dropout rates suggested above for the state as well as every district in order to find out the extent of district-to-district variation and to pay due attention to districts showing high dropout rates. They may make the same available in their Annual Work Plans.
  • For monitoring the progress in the reduction of dropout rates, it is sufficient to report the annual grade-wise and average dropout rates for primary/elementary levels of education. There is no need to report retention rates which are at present based on old grade 1 enrolment data; for example, grade 1 data of 2009-10 was used for computing the retention rate up to grade 5 in 2013-14 for different states reported in the NUEPA’s publication ‘Elementary Education in India: Progress towards UEE’ of 2013-14. Retention rates do give an idea of the percentage of children who, after taking admission in grade 1, would continue up to grade 5, 6, 7, or 8, but for monitoring year-to-year progress in the reduction of dropout rates, the focus should be on annual dropout rates computed from the data of latest two consecutive years.
  • The definition of ‘dropouts’ should be made clear and precise so that one can decide whether a child has to be considered enrolled and attending school or treated as a dropout from school. For example, we may consider a child a dropout if he/she has been absent for more than a month without valid reasons, but she/he should not be considered a dropout on re-entering school after a long absence. This is particularly important for identifying dropouts in household surveys in which data on dropouts are collected.

Complete study of Dr. Srivastava can be downloaded from the following link:

Trends in Dropout Rate at Elementary Level by Dr. ABL Srivastava

Comments of Dr. ABL Srivastava on Education for All in India: Myth or Reality