GUWAHATI, Feb 27 � Concern is growing over the status of adolescent girls and boys in high schools in Assam, with many dropping out schools in the age group of 14-17 years. The low level of access to information on health among the group is another cause of apprehension. The condition of adolescents girls appear to be especially worrying with a sizeable number of them getting married before the legal age of marriage.
The facts have been highlighted by educators as well as researchers, and now reinforced by a factsheet on Assam provided by UNICEF.
According to the information made available, there are an estimated 6.5 million adolescents in the age group of 10-19 years in Assam, which constitute 21.3 per cent of the State�s total population. Of the adolescent population, 3.3 million are boys and 3.2 million are girls.
A matter of anxiety is the fact that attendance levels among adolescent children go down as they move from elementary to secondary levels of schooling. Poor economic condition is a major reason for students unable to stay in schools.
In Assam, anaemia is prevalent among the adolescents to a very high degree, suggesting poor nutrition. An alarming 67.8 per cent of girls are anaemic, while it is 40 per cent among boys, as indicated by the National Family Health Survey.
Girls in the age group face additional risks in the area of health, as many of them are married off early. The UNICEF fact sheet mentions that more than 38 per cent of girls in Assam marry before the legal age for marriage. Consequently many endure health problems, which are compounded by limited access to healthcare, particularly in remote areas.
Those acquainted with the situation believe that access to crucial information is restricted among adolescents. Knowledge of HIV/AIDS among adolescents is low in Assam. Only 19.6 per cent in the age group of 15-19 years have �correct knowledge� about transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS.