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The Odisha government has instructed district collectors to work on bringing back roughly 30% of pupils who have not returned to school since classroom teaching began following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. In a letter to the districts, School and Mass Education Department secretary BP Sethi noted that after analysing daily attendance data from the schools provided by the District Education Officers (DEOs), it was discovered that roughly 70% of children are attending lessons.

According to a detailed investigation, attendance in Classes 1 to 5 was lower than the state average in districts including Malkanagiri, Boudh, Gajapati, Sambalpur, and Nuapada. Malkanagiri, Boudh, Sambalpur, and Nuapada have all performed poorly in terms of attendance in Classes 6 to 8, he noted.

Gajapati, Bolangir, Bargarh, Sonepur, Nuapada, Cuttack, Khordha, Koraput, Ganjam, Boudh, Malkangiri, Keonjhar, and Sambalpur had lower secondary school attendance than the state average, according to Sethi. He said that overall attendance in higher secondary schools is abysmally low in Gajapati, Sonepur, Baragarh, Kandhamal, and Nuapada, which is a cause for concern.

"The data above lead us to assume that a thorough investigation is required to determine the location of the absent students. It's possible that these students who aren't attending offline classes have dropped out/ moved out with their parents/ lost interest in academic activities as a result of the teaching schedule not being maintained due to the pandemic situation, among other factors that need to be investigated "he noted.

According to the Department of School and Mass Education, many children who graduate from Class 8 do not enrol in Class 9.