A seven-member task force has been formed by the state school education department to enrol out-of-school children back into schools. The task force has been given a month’s time to devise solutions that will bring these children back into academic institutions.
Any child who does not attend school for more than 30 days is considered to be out-of-school. Currently, there are 3-4% children in the state who do not attend school, says the Unified District Information System of Education (U-DISE) 2013-14. Of them, 12, 000-13,000 students are in Mumbai.
For the first time, a task force, consisting of members from within as well as outside the government, has been formed to address this problem. Mahavir Mane, director of primary education, will head the group, which includes prominent educationists like Farida Lambay, co-founder of NGO Pratham, and Ahmednagar-based educationist Herambh Kulkarni, who recently submitted recommendations to the government on improving primary education.
“The working group will come up with solutions on out-of-school children within a month, and immediate steps will be taken to solve the problem,” said a government resolution, dated August 28.
The decision to form the group was taken after a meeting was held on August 5, where NGOs made presentations on the issue. Members of the group said that one of the major challenges is to identify exactly which children qualify as out-of-school, and how many of them there are.
“We could start by conducting a detailed survey, to identify the exact number of out-of-school children, including those who have never been enrolled in school,” said Mane. “The group’s first meeting will be held on September 15, where it will decide its scope and area of work.”
Kulkarni said that the time-bound nature of the programme will help to devise quick steps. “We need to study the best practices of other states in resolving this problem, and come up with a concrete roadmap,” he said.
Lambay suggested that out-of-school children be identified sector-wise. “In Mumbai, there are different groups of out-of-school children such as rag-pickers, beggars, and street children, who are out of school for different reasons. Measures used to bring each group back into school should be different.”
Bringing drop-outs back into the fold
According to the Unified District Information System of Education (U-DISE) 2013-14, 3-4% children across the state can be considered to be out-of-school. In Mumbai, at least 12, 000 to 13,000 children are believed to be out-of-school, including rag-pickers, beggars and child labourers.
The Right to Education Act 2009 states that the government must take steps to bring out-of-school children back into educational institutions. Every child between ages 6 and 14 years should be enrolled into schools.
Human resource development minister Smriti Irani has said that the government will be rolling out a programme by the year-end, through which drop-outs, who were forced to take up jobs or exit schools owing to financial worries, will be facilitated back into studies, right up to PhD level.