In its latest child-mapping survey, the UT education department has identified 2,800 dropouts among children while as many as 3,025 have never even been to school.
The exercise— a crucial component of the Right to Education Act, 2009—which the department conducted in March earlier this year, surveyed 1.8 lakh children in the city aged between 5 and 18.
Compared to last year, this year saw a marginal improvement: The survey conducted in 2013, also in the same age category, revealed that 3,329 children dropped out of schools while 3,889 had never been enrolled in schools.
There is, however, little to rejoice. The city has 1,813 dropouts between 14 and 18 years, 540 in the 11-14 years category and 447 dropouts between 5 and 11 years. The number of dropouts in the city gains particular significance given the city’s large floating population, especially its migratant workers.
A major problem faced is the lack of focus on the actual number of dropouts in the Union Territory.
On record, Chandigarh, in the annual report sent to the central government, shows no dropouts. This is because of the methods of computation of dropout rates prescribed by the central government. The city has 100% promotion rate in each class.
This implies that if a certain class has 10 dropouts, an equal or more number of students join the class (given the number of migrant workers), thereby maintaining the strength of the class. The dropouts, meanwhile, escape notice.
Experts call for a change of the computational technique, which, they say, does not allow for the tracking of each child individually and say that while the technique works for states, which have a large population, Chandigarh needs another method to keep tabs on dropout rates.
They also call for a proactive approach of the department to assimilate children, both dropouts and those who have never been enrolled in schools, and bring them to the fold of formal education.
“According to the trends seen in the past, the identified children—whether drop out or those who have never been to schools—are not enrolled in for mal schooling or special training centres even after the session begins, which leaves them without school education,” said an official from the department, seeking anonymity. A senior of ficial said that the issue of drop outs requires micro-management.
Another issue that compounds the problem is the lack of infrastructure. With government schools, in both the urban as well as the peripheral areas, already bursting at the seams, these “out of school” children are not inducted in mainstream education in time.
While central government’s norms mandate that such children must first undergo training at special training centres, and then admit them to formal schools, the union territory’s induction rate continues to remain very low.
Out of total of 6, 025 children identified in 2012, only 900 to 1,000 were absorbed in formal schooling. Parents of these children, who are mostly uneducated, are also blamed for the apathy.