Abstract

Education plays multifarious instrumental roles in the realisation of certain ends both at individual and societal level. A large number of research works carried out in and outside India have identified and established a whole range of externalities produced by education such as raising human capital beyond individual level. Despite debates on economic returns to education, most scholars agreed about the positive impact of education upon economic return. The present study has mainly focused on a comparative analysis in attainment of education among three different social groups that is, scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and other non-scheduled castes at school level. This is a micro-level empirical study focusing on one of the least developed Community Development Block (CDB) of Bankura district in West Bengal. The analysis of the study reveals that disadvantaged social groups—SCs and STs are the marginalised depressed classes experiencing high level of educational deprivation compared to that of other communities. One has to note that affiliation to a particular caste can no longer be tagged as a sole determinant of relative backwardness. So what is called for is a careful stratification of the community on the basis of socio-economic attributes so as to diagnose the problem of the community at hand properly. The study uses logistic regression as an analytical tool to probe net effects of the predictor variables including castes on enrolment and discontinuation rates for the study area as a whole as well as for boys and girls separately. It is important to note that when other variables are controlled, the net effect of caste factor becomes statistically inconsequential either on enrolment or on discontinuation or dropouts. Rather, it is the combination of several socio-economic factors that are taken together which pulls down the enrolment of ST and SC children vis-a-vis those belonging to others non-scheduled castes.