Kohima: Raising concern over the current educational system in Nagaland with low enrolment and high dropout rate, school education advisor K T Sukhalu on Tuesday expressed hope that a World Bank-funded project will transform the sector.

Sukhalu, also an MLA, made the observation while speaking at a state-level orientation programme of the project here.

Expressing hope that The Lighthouse, Nagaland: Enhancing Classroom Teaching And Resources (NECTAR)’ project would transform not only the education sector but also impact lives beyond classrooms, Sukhalu said an overhaul in the system would mean better quality education and improvement in human capital.

Public school education in Nagaland comprises about 2,000 government schools catering to around 150,000 students, while private schools constitute a significant share of the education system, with 717 such institutes enrolling about 2,20,000 students, he said.

Many government schools are in rural areas where students are more likely to be first-generation learners with limited home support for learning, Sukhalu said.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the state was facing a learning crisis, the MLA said.

According to the Central government’s Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) 2016-17 data for elementary schooling, Nagaland is at the bottom five among all states in terms of net enrolment rate (75.63 per cent), retention rate (45.5 per cent) and rates of transition from elementary to secondary education (79 per cent).

The North-eastern state also has the second-highest dropout rates at the primary and upper-primary levels at 20.9 per cent against the national average of 18.2 percent, according to UDISE data.

The advisor lamented that the situation is worse at the secondary level as Nagaland ranks second last from the bottom among the states on NER at 34.03 while at the higher secondary level, the NER drops to 19.62 per cent compared to 30.95 per cent at the national level.

The state also performs poorly on basic reading and arithmetic skills, Sukhalu said.

Poor enrolment, retention, and transition, and high dropout rates are due to a limited number of composite schools, lack of systematic efforts to map and attract out-of-school children, and parental concerns about the quality of teaching, especially in government schools, he said.

About Rs 500 crore to be provided by the World Bank for the project, in a phased manner, holds immense relevance for the education system in Nagaland as it aims to enhance the governance of schools across the state and also improve teaching practices and learning environments in selected school complexes, Sukhalu said.

The success of the project depends predominantly on the collaborative efforts of all the entities and stakeholders that have various roles and responsibilities, in varying degrees, he said.

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