With the new academic session around the corner, the UT education department has finally started instructing cluster heads to begin child-mapping. Right to Education makes child-mapping survey mandatory every year before admissions so that no child below the age of 14 has to go without education.
The survey is done area wise by school heads and includes the list of children in different age groups in the city. Children from disadvantaged groups, children with special needs, those who have never enrolled in school and those who have dropped out are identified in the survey. They are enrolled in special training centres to be provided education and brought in the mainstream.
With less than a month to go before the new academic session, school principals believe child mapping data would ensure that the address mentioned by the child being enrolled is correct, as authorities have to follow the neighbourhood criteria during the admission process.
According to the RTE Act, child mapping data is provided to private schools so that they can enroll children from economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. Government school teachers gather data in the area where the school is located. Each year, nearly 3,000 teachers are put on duty to visit houses located on the city’s periphery and identify children. More than 1,50,000 students are identified in the child mapping survey each year.
Arvind Rana, a teacher at government school, Sarangpur, said, “The issue involves the work teachers should do in the light of Section 27 of RTE Act. Section 27 says, teachers will only do three non-academic duties: census, election and disaster. Certainly child mapping is not a part of the section as it involves the teachers to go outside the school and is other than teaching work. Even during examination days teachers must not be involved with work not related with teaching.”
Various teachers believe the education department must create a mechanism in which child-mapping work should be outsourced to some agency.
“At one time, the department is issuing letters to the school heads to not give non-academic duties to teachers and at the same time it is asking teachers to do child mapping which is a non-academic duty,” added Rana.
Deputy director, school education, Chanchal Singh, said, “The RTE provides for identifying children who are not coming to school or are dropouts so if teachers won’t partake, who else will?”
While a couple of cluster heads have had meetings with the department officials, others are yet to be informed. Principal of GMSSS, Sector 10 and president of the Government School Principal’s Association, Harbir Anand, said, “I am yet to be called, but I’ve heard from other cluster heads that the meetings have begun.” However, the process has been delayed.
While there is no clarity for the reason behind the delay, Anand said, “This time the department has arranged special centres to check exam papers of Class 11 students, so perhaps many teachers are busy. In 2015, the process was initiated in February and the survey results were out by March beginning.