To the gratification of policy-makers, the stress on education is finally paying dividends with school attendance rates in general steadily rising as seen by the significant decline in the number of school dropouts during 1999-2000 to 2004-05.
What is more, the increase has been faster in rural areas than in the urban areas.
Compared to 885 per 1000 youngsters in the 5 to 14 age group in urban areas who were regular school-goers in 2004-05, the rural areas reported attendance of 803 per 1000 youngsters, up from 692 per 1000 youngsters in 1999-2000, according to a recent NSSO survey.
Stagnation in the country's agricultural growth -- and subsequently job opportunities in the agrarian sector -- is being attributed by experts for the stress being paid on education in towns and villages.
Attendance rate in educational institutions among children and the youth is an important social indicator for assessing the status of progress of any particular group of people.
Current attendance rate in educational institutions for different social and age groups has been defined as the number of persons currently attending educational institutions per 1000 persons of the respective social group and age group.
Compared to households belonging to the scheduled categories, the current rate in educational institutions was much higher among the urban male youth of 20-24 years for which the rate was highest among STs (32 per cent) followed by others (28 per cent).
In rural India, the current attendance rate among the OBCs was higher than that among the STs and SCs, the survey found.
Between the ST and SC population of rural India, the current attendance rates for both men and women, excepting the age group 20-24, were higher among the households belonging to SCs than that among the STs.
Contrary to this, in urban India current attendance rates were much higher for STs than that among SCs for both men and women.
In urban India, though the current attendance rates among the STs were higher than OBCs for the age group 15 years and above, the rates were lower for the age group 5-14 years.
By age 20 and above, the number of dropouts had jumped among all four categories. In rural areas, STs were placed at 6.8 per cent (down from 58.2 per cent in the 5-14 age group), SCs at 6.5 per cent (against 64.7 per cent) and OBCs at 7.3 per cent (68.7 per cent) compared to 10.5 per cent (77.1 per cent) for those in the others category, the survey said.
The urban scenario was somewhat different with the 20-24 age group in the ST category reporting a decline to 26.3 per cent from 77.6 per cent in the 5-14 age group, representation among the SCs plummeting to 13.9 per cent from 76.6 per cent, OBCs down to 15.9 per cent from 80.6 per cent and others to 24.9 per cent from 86.8 per cent.
UNI SD YA BD1027