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It is worrying to learn that increasing number of students between classes PP and 10 are leaving school. The number of school-leavers this year has increased by about 2,000 compared with last year’s figure.

What is more worrying is that we do not know why the dropout rate is increasing. The statistics also show that number of boys leaving school is more than girls.

From this information we now have there is only one thing to be understood – education system is not working as planned. An efficient and working education system should have less repetition and dropout rate. What we have today is the exact opposite.

One of the reasons why increasing number of students are leaving school could be because of lack of employment opportunities. Parents find no meaning in sending their children to school. They’d rather keep their children at home and train them for works that will pay the family well. In some areas, the short-term gain is more important than spending years in schools. For instance, highlanders deliberately keep children out of school for weeks when it is cordyceps collection time.

This leaves us with two different but closely related problems that we must address immediately. We need to make school education relevant to the changing economic situation of the country and create more employment opportunities. The sooner we do this, the better.

As an interim measure, the best the government can do is to create youth entrepreneurship programmes more attractive, viable and sustainable. The success of the programme could have far-reaching impact on the development of Bhutanese society and serve us well for a very long time.

The danger that we are about to face is that increasing dropout rate will create a large number of jobless young people who will be a burden to the country’s economy. That is why youth entrepreneurship development should be considered an important intervention.

Also it is equally important that educationists meet to assess the relevance of school education.

We cannot go on not knowing why students are leaving school. Education officials say that a survey must be conducted to find out why students are leaving school. But we cannot delay or take it lightly. If a survey must be conducted, it should be done at the earliest before we see more drop out of school.

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