Chronic Absenteeism and Its Impact on the Learning Outcomes of Primary Grade Students in India

Chronic Absenteeism and Its Impact on the Learning Outcomes of Primary Grade Students in India

Ruchi Jain Charu Jain
31 January 2024

This paper addresses one of the most critical yet overlooked problems of excessive absence of students in primary grades in India. Considering the intuitive link between students’ attendance and achievements, this paper empirically investigates the incidence and causes of chronic absenteeism while examining the variations in the attainment of foundational skills of primary students. Using data from the India Human Development Survey, round II, the authors find a continuous decline in the attainment of foundational skills among students, as the absenteeism rate increases from ‘normal’ to ‘chronic’, clearly indicating that attendance works! Further, the logistic regression model shows that poor health conditions of a child, larger school distance, extra school working hours, teaching factors, and harsh punishments are among the major contributing factors leading to chronic absence among students. Early attention and strict policy interventions are required due to their direct implications on the cognitive growth of young minds, and quality and productivity of the overall school education.