From Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Strange it may sound but true. For every 351 students enrolled in Urdu medium schools in the State, 305 drop out before they reach the class 10.
Plagued with falling standards and shortage of teaching staff, Urdu medium schools in the State have become notorious for frequent drop out of students. Of the 77,000 students who enroll in Urdu medium schools every year, only 10,000 stay till they enter the class 10.
A whopping 67,000 students leave school for work as child labour every year. This in simple words means 305 students drop out of Urdu schools each day of the 220 days in an academic year. While boys end up as child labour, girls work as domestic helps. Some take admissions in Arabic madarasas as education there comes free with board and accommodation.
There are about 3,000 primary and upper primary Urdu medium schools under the control of the State government. The student retention rate in these schools is appalling low as compared with that of Telugu medium or English medium schools. While the State government blames the community elders for the failure of Urdu medium schools, educationists hold poor amenities including lack of sufficient number of teachers as the main reason behind the high drop-out rate.
Argues eminent educationist and All-India Urdu Educational Committee president Jaleel Pasha, "there is still acute shortage of teachers. No doubt, the government has relaxed the roaster system in schools but it is not sufficient. Urdu students should get scholarships on par with those from backward classes. What the government pays Urdu students is hardly sufficient for even purchase of textbooks".
According to official sources, only 1019 students have enrolled in seven of the Urdu medium residential schools managed by the State government. This in contrast to 750 students in just four English medium residential schools. The government even appealed to legislators to ensure better enrolment in Urdu schools in their constituencies.
There's no bridge school concept in Urdu medium schools. Even the open school system for Urdu school dropouts has failed to deliver the goods. The open school scheme was meant for the Urdu mother tongue dropouts at primary level in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medak, Nizamabad, Kurnool, Guntur, Kadapa and Anantapur districts. As many as 100 Urdu open schools have been set up including 40 in twin cities.
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