India’s northeast is a region that lies significantly isolated from country’s main landmass due to its unique geographical location. India’s northeast comprises of seven states namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura. The social and demographic aspects of the region are diverse and multifaceted in nature. Since India’s independence, they have been known to be the most unfrequented of lands which happened to be the disadvantage for states in many cases. This characteristic has both been a bane as well as a boon for the region for several reasons.
A few decades ago, education lay in shambles in all the states in the region except Tripura. Education is one such sector in which the region has witnessed both positives and negatives at the same time. A low-density population, numerous ethnic tribes and languages, inaccessible terrain and many more hurdles lay in the path of educational development in the region. Often termed as a region belonging to tribal and isolated populations, the states have shown robust growth at many junctures compared to mainland India.
Education in India’s northeast is definitely shining radiantly and deservedly is emerging as India’s most literate region in current times. However, as per the reports conducted by the World Bank and Central government, it was recorded that Nagaland has the highest dropout rate among Indian states.
The dropout rate of the Northeast states in primary school (grade I-V) stood over 12 percent which is three times the national average of 4.3 percent. The scenario is no better in the upper primary (VI-VIII) and the secondary (IX-X) levels of the state too, it stood at 17.7 per cent and 35.1 per cent respectively. The state’s ambitious ‘Communitisation of Education’ plan has failed to achieve the desired results. As per the plan, the state has sought the involvement of the community to improve school education.
Taking into consideration the states, the dropout level is as given below: Northeastern states – Nagaland (19.4 percent), Manipur (18 percent), Mizoram (13 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (10.9 per cent) and Meghalaya (10.3 per cent) have a dropout rate in double figures, far above the national average. Assam has a dropout rate of 7.4 per cent while Sikkim had a dropout rate of 4.6 per cent during 2014-15. Tripura, however, was an exception, showing a dropout rate of 3.6 percent, lower than the national average.
The important reason behind the dropout ratio quoted by Tia Ao, Additional Director of education department, is the poor family support and lack of teachers in rural areas. Most families in rural Nagaland prefer to engage their children in domestic and field work instead. An official said that the frequent change of schools by students is one of the important factors for high dropout rate. “We are trying to cut down the dropout rate but haven’t got much success as yet. The rate is high especially in the upper primary and the secondary levels. The frequent migration of students from one school to another only adds to the drop-out rate,” official added.