Indian school kids told study hard and sky is the limit

Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:09am EST
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By Nityanand Shukla

RANCHI, India (Reuters Life!) - Get good grades, stay in school and the sky is the limit, an eastern Indian state government told schoolchildren on Wednesday, promising free glider rides to kids who stay the course.

"The students leave school after studying for two to three years. Our aim is to cultivate poor students' interest in study," said Bandhu Tirkey, Jharkhand state's human resource development minister, told Reuters.

About 720 state school students aged between 8 and 16 will win a one-hour ride in a glider provided by the state's Civil Aviation Department.

Students need an attendance records of at least 75 percent to be shortlisted for the prize.

The move aims to slash high dropout rates, particularly among tribal communities, in Jharkhand, where the literacy rate of 54 percent lags behind the national average of 65 percent according to the country's last census in 2001.

A 2008 state government survey found 40 percent of students studying in government schools drop out before they are 15.

A free birthday bash or haircuts are among other initiatives given to poor students in the state's 16,000 government schools.

Jharkhand is one of India's poorest states and has a large tribal population.

(Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Gillian Murdoch)