The household survey to identify out-of-school children is conducted in December every year and the children are enrolled in April, the consecutive year, this gap of four months between the survey and enrolment is primarily responsible for these children failing to join the special training centres, as they tend to relocate to other places during this time lapse.
- A child is categorised as ‘out-of-school’ if he or she has never been enrolled in a school.
Every year, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) office receives the grant and then returns it, as children fail to join the centres. In 2015, the SSA office received an approved grant of Rs 36 lakh for 1,911 out-of-school students which were identified during the household survey. Out of 1,911, 1,615 joined the special training centres and 1,400 students were mainstreamed in April 1, 2016. This data clearly indicates that 296 students failed to join the centres in April. So, the Ludhiana Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan office returned a grant of Rs 1.27 lakh to the head office in Chandigarh.
In 2014, the situation was also the same. 1,837 students were traced in the household survey and only 1,665 were mainstreamed in April 2015.
An official from SSA office requesting anonymity, said, “The household survey must be conducted in March instead of December so that the identified students can join the centres from April 1. Whenever we conduct the survey in December, the students identified, either move to other locations or migrate to other states. I believe, this year it will be difficult to get out-of-school students as due to an installation of smart classrooms in the government primary schools most of the students have already enrolled themselves in schools.”
- Section (4) of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, says “Where a child above six years of age has not been admitted in any school and could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she should be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age. He or she should be at par with others, must have a right to receive special training within such time-limits.”
A primary school teacher, who wished not to be named, said, “To teach these students, the government has hired special training volunteers but they are not taking any classes. They make these students sit in Class 1 and primary school teachers are teaching them. In the district, the special training centres are running just on papers, however, in reality, these volunteers make out-of-school students sit in our classes. These centres were started by the government to prepare the child for admission in the mainstream schools.”
Director general school education, Punjab, Pradeep Aggarwal, said, “After December, it will be examination time and everybody will be busy in conducting exams of different classes. However, we can think of conducting one more survey in March or April.”