Ef­forts needed to ar­rest school dropout rate

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and sev­eral other State agen­cies re­cently in­tro­duced a joint doc­u­ment, list­ing a se­ries of mea­sures to en­sure that school-go­ing chil­dren from im­pov­er­ished fam­i­lies, ex­cept those with phys­i­cal dis­ad­van­tages, don’t drop out of schools dur­ing the nineyear com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion stage.

It also says that by 2020 the per­cent­age of grad­u­at­ing stu­dents should be main­tained at 95 per­cent of en­rolled stu­dents and a longterm mech­a­nism evolved to guar­an­tee the ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the coun­try’s com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy.

Ac­cord­ing to the na­tional sta­tis­ti­cal bul­letin on ed­u­ca­tion developmen­t, the rate for com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion in China stood at 93.8 per­cent in 2017 and rose to 94.2 per­cent in 2018 and 94.8 per­cent in 2019; it is just one step away from meet­ing the 95 per­cent rate goal.

This is a re­sult of the au­thor­i­ties’ con­sis­tent ef­forts to re­duce dropouts among school-go­ing chil­dren na­tion­wide. How­ever, a prob­lem­solv­ing ap­proach should be adopted to fur­ther im­prove the rate and mea­sures taken to ease the dif­fi­cul­ties that force many stu­dents to drop out of schools.

The joint doc­u­ment urges a work plan whereby stu­dents from poor fam­i­lies who have dropped out of school are en­cour­aged to re­turn. It also stresses on pre­vent­ing stu­dents from drop­ping out be­cause of the novel coro­n­avirus out­break.

The doc­u­ment is of great prac­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance, con­sid­er­ing that there is no one-size-fits-all for­mula to solve the dropout prob­lem.

For ex­am­ple, some stu­dents in ru­ral ar­eas drop out of school be­cause of the longer dis­tance they have to travel and in­creased cost of school­ing due to sus­pen­sion or merger of some schools.

The num­ber of stu­dents drop­ping out of school has re­duced in re­cent years after the au­thor­i­ties called for a halt on sus­pen­sion of schools for the vis­ually im­paired or na­tion­wide merger of schools.

To re­duce the eco­nomic bur­den on stu­dents in some im­pov­er­ished cen­tral and western ru­ral ar­eas, they have been ex­empted from pay­ing board­ing school, tu­ition or mis­cel­la­neous fees, and liv­ing and ac­com­mo­da­tion ex­penses. In some re­mote vil­lages and towns, there are no buses fer­ry­ing stu­dents be­tween their homes and schools; this prac­ti­cal prob­lem needs to be ad­dressed.

The au­thor­i­ties should also pay at­ten­tion to some sub­jec­tive fac­tors forc­ing stu­dents to drop out of school.

For ex­am­ple, in re­cent years, many in ru­ral ar­eas have be­gun be­liev­ing that “ed­u­ca­tion is use­less” and drop­ping out of school to go out for work. There­fore, more ef­forts are needed to make ru­ral peo­ple re­al­ize that ed­u­ca­tion can im­prove their life even if it can­not com­pletely change their fate.

— BEI­JING YOUTH DAILY

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