Even thought the State Government is pumping in crores of rupees to improve education, Orissa has the highest percentage of children who are out of school. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)-2008 which was recently released said that 7.2 per cent of children aged between six and 14 are out of schools. While Rajasthan is closely following Orissa with 7.1 per cent, the percentage of out of school children other States has been below six per cent.
In 2005, 2006 and 2007, Rs 1,289.8 crore has been spent on education while average expenditure per district over three years has been Rs 43 crore. As per the ASER, in Malkanagiri district, the highest 21.9 per cent children are out of schools. It is followed by Rayagada with 17.7 per cent, Koraput with 17 per cent, Nabarangpur with 16.3 per cent and Mayurbhanj with 14.9 per cent of children.
Orissa has not made any improvement in the category of children aged between 7 and 10.
The ASER graph shows the percentage of children outside school in the year 2005 and 2008 remains same at around 5 per cent. However, percentage of children out of school in the age group of 11 to 14 years has modestly come down from the year 2005 to 2008.
Lesser numbers of children in the State are found to be in private schools between the age group of 6 to 14.
The percentage was found to be 4.5 per cent in Orissa. Only Tripura with 2.4 per cent is behind Orissa as far as children attending private schools is concerned. There is some good news too. Orissa along with Karnataka shows a steady increase in proportion of children who can read from Standard II to IV. Over 2006 to 2008, the reading levels recorded show about five- six percentage point improvement. Ironically, students of private schools are found to be better in reading as well as recognising numbers in private schools.