Several government interventions like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid Day Meal, and the District Primary Education Program have resulted in increasing the net enrolment rate into primary school. Despite a high primary net enrolment rate of 91% (WDI, 2008), more than 5.5 million children are still out of school in India and of those enrolled in primary school only 66% survive to grade 5 (UIS, 2007). Thus, retention still remains a severe issue.
In a recent study (the paper can be found here and the summary here), Peter Orazem considers three strategies that seem to offer the best evidence of success to date: nutrition supplements, offering information on returns to schooling, and conditional cash transfers (CCTs) for school attendance. All have been shown to succeed with benefits that exceed the costs.
In India, while nutrition supplements are being provided (in theory atleast) in the form of mid-day-meals and pilot interventions of CCTs for school attendance have been implemented in various states (variations of CCTs have been tried out successfully in India, notably the Delhi Government’s Laadli Scheme and the Bihar Bicycle scheme) the provision of accurate information to children and their parents on the returns of education schooling is one relatively obvious, simple and inexpensive intervention that could perhaps be explored on a large scale.