The Jammu and Kashmir Education Department is rattled by the increase in the dropout rate of girl students in the Kashmir valley and is studying the likely causes behind this worrying development. A senior official of the Education Department told this reporter that in many cases they have found that parental intervention is stopping girls from going to schools and colleges, especially in South Kashmir. The official further said that they have found that dozens of girls in Shopian and Pulwama discontinued schools and colleges after some of their family members were hit by pellets. “In some cases we found that the worried parents were not allowing the girl students to attend educational institutions,” the official said, requesting not to be quoted.
Although girls have been outshining boys in different examinations held in the Kashmir valley, there has been a quantum increase in the dropout rate among the female students in 2016-2017. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said that she is serious about arresting this trend.
The Education Department has been collecting data and some officers told this reporter that they were looking for ways and means to motivate girl students to resume school/college, especially girl students in South Kashmir. “The average dropout rate is 10.5% at primary school level but the dropout rate of girl students has shot up to 11.3%,” an officer of the Education Department told this reporter. J&K Education Minister Chowdhary Zulfikar Ali recently held a high level meeting of his officers and asked them to reverse the trend.
The current academic year in the Kashmir valley has seen many disruptions due to curfews and strikes. In many educational institutions of South Kashmir, only two weeks of regular classes could be held in the past few months. “Even on normal days we are scared to go to school and colleges. Our parents are more concerned about our safety than our education,” said Saima Bhat, a final year student in Government Degree College, Shopian. The Ramzan ceasefire has brought fresh hope among the state education department officials that they may be able to arrest the increasing dropout rate.