A household survey conducted by primary school teachers and special training volunteers identified 1,575 out-of-school children in Ludhiana district. The survey, commissioned by the director general school education office, was held between December 5 and 19, 2016.
However, the good news is that this figure is the lowest in the last six years. According to data, 2010 recorded 5,610 children, followed by 6,748 in 2011, 3,470 in 2012, 2,888 in 2013, 1,837 in 2014 and 1,911 in 2015. Out of 1,575 children identified, a majority belong to two blocks - 500 in Ludhiana 1 and 400 in Mangat 1.
The purpose of this survey is to identify out-of-school children aged between seven and 14 and enrol them in special training centres to prepare them for admissions to government schools. Most of these kids belong to underprivileged families of labourers who have migrated to the district and a lot of them are found begging on streets.
A Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) official, on terms of anonymity, said, “The trend has changed because most children prefer enrolling in government schools directly due to installation of smart classrooms. They don’t want to undergo training at the special centres. A major drawback we face is the gap of four months between the December survey and enrolment at training centres that happens in April. A lot of children migrate to other states and it is difficult to trace them after that.”
Despite repeated attempts, district education officer (elementary) Balwinder Singh Sandhu was not available for comment.