Conducted by five Catholic universities in South Asia as well as Asian and European experts, this project, which is promoted by the International Center for Research and Decision Support (CIRAD), aims to understand the processes leading to early school leaving in South Asia, and to devise practical levers to try to counter the dropout phenomenon.
As a first step, a review of school dropouts in Europe, South Asia and South-East Asia will allow for defining a grid of analysis of school dropout situations in South Asia, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Training and research activities for the Asian teams will be carried out throughout the project in order to consolidate both the approach and the methodology. Then, teams will carry out a series of interviews (life histories) with disadvantaged populations in their immediate environment. This fieldwork should enable to identify the main processes leading to dropout, and define strategies to allow adolescents to return into the school system, and even to give them a chance to continue their education in the secondary and beyond.
Although there have been major improvements in the recent period, South Asia has one of the lowest primary education enrolment rates in the world, just after sub-Saharan Africa. According to UNICEF figures, around a third of the children who did not attend school in 2001 lived in South Asia, especially in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Since the issue of dropping out of school affects all regions of the world to varying extents, this project includes an intercontinental approach through to the association of European and East Asian experts. The combination of both local and global levels should enable, through the collection and analysis of qualitative data, to make recommendations for public decision-makers, members of civil society, NGOs, schools and universities in the South Asian region.