As many as 1,837 children in the district between the age of 6 and 14 are out-of-school, reveals the household survey conducted last month by special training volunteers (STV). The survey was conducted as per the directions of director general, school education (DGSE), Punjab.
This is the lowest figure in the last five years as 5,610 children were traced to be out-of-school in 2010; 6,748 in 2011; 3,670 in 2012; 2,888 in 2013 and 1,837 this year.
A child is categorised as 'out-of-school' if he/she is either not enrolled or has been absent for more than 45 working days or has discontinued studies from the school. The definition of the Right to Education (RTE) under Chapter 2 Section 3(1) says "Every child of the age of 6-14 years shall have a right to free and compulsory education in the neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education."
Further Section (4) of the RTE says, "Where a child above six years of age has not been admitted in any school, could not complete his or her elementary education, then he or she should be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age.
Provided that where a child is directly admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age. She or he should be on a par with others, have a right to receive special training within such time limits."
Talking to Hindustan Times, district education officer, elementary, Gurjot Singh, said, "Our volunteers have traced the children and a report has been sent to director general, school education office. Last year too, 2,888 children were traced to be out-of-school and our volunteers made efforts to identify children and had visited door to door."
The special training volunteers will train the children for a few months and after that the children will be shifted to the main school. Due to shortage of infrastructure, the special training volunteers are conducting the classes in the government schools only. There are 600 special training volunteers in district. At several government schools, the primary teachers are also taking classes of the out-of-school children.