Persistently high dropout rates are one of the biggest challenges to fulfilling the right to education in India. This paper attempts to assess the magnitude of the problem of dropout. The paper critically reviews the evidence on some of the commonly cited reasons for dropout, including poverty, limited to access to credit, child labour, and children’s and parents’ lack of interest in education. The paper argues that the literature rarely looks at the role of procedures and rules in schools and the wider education system in terms of pushing children out of school. It is the contention of this paper that the reason a persistently high dropout rate should be located in the absence of a social norm in terms of children’s right to education; and that this is reflected in the lack of systemic support available for children at risk of dropping out. The paper also documents an experiment initiated by MV Foundation in Shankarpalle Mandal, Ranga Reddy district, Andhra Pradesh, where procedures, rules and practices relating to various aspects of school were changed to ensure that every child stayed in school and completed elementary level.
CREATE Pathways to Access Series, Research Monograph Number 40, ISBN: 0-901881-47-3. 43 pp.