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HindustanTimes Mon,15 Sep 2014

Short life of a big promise

Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times  Sangrur, May 01, 2013
First Published: 22:20 IST(1/5/2013) | Last Updated: 23:48 IST(1/5/2013)

The out-of-school children and their parents never had thought their dream of getting mainstream education would be so short-lived.

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Surveys were done and children were identified but when it came to making them ready to enter the regular government schools, the training institutions to fulfil the promise were closed.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) authorities continue to hold back the permission to reopen special training centres (STCs), putting the district administrations and the children selected into worry. At the centres, children in the age group of 7 to 14, who had dropped out school, could resume basic education to catch up with other children of their age until they were ready to cope up with the curriculum in regular schools, which they graduated to eventually.

The STCs were a boon for labourers and poor migrants, who now could send their children to school for no cost at all. Then, the SSA authorities decided to shut down both residential and non-residential STCs from March 31. "The scheme opened in 2010 was to continue for three years. The centre put in 60% of the money and the state invested 40%," said an officer in the state education department. "The teachers' contract was annulled on March 31 and the centres closed."

The state government was supposed to take over the STC but it failed. The children enrolled were to get free-of-cost books and uniform, besides Rs. 250 each for stationery every year. In Sangrur, the district education authorities indentified 888 out-of-school children this year, of which 613 were selected to be sent to the STCs.

Of the chosen ones, 71 already are in different schools from this session, while 142 are promised special training in the Inclusive Education for Disabled centres before the mainstreaming process. Also, 63 girls, who quit school, will be sent to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) hostels.

Last year, of the 933 children identified in Sangrur, 859 were mainstreamed after special training at 104 centres. In Patiala, 1,200 students were given free training in 85 centres in different blocks.

"We are yet to get the permission to reopen the 104 centres in Sangrur," said district education officer (primary) Sher Singh. Deputy commissioner Kumar Rahul agreed to take up the matter with the state-level officials.

What are STCs
At Special Training Centres (STCs), children in the age group of 7 to 14, who had dropped out school, could resume basic education to catch up with other children of their age before graduating to regular schools.

The STCs were a boon for labourers and poor migrants, who now could send their children to school for zero cost

The SSA authorities decided to shut down both residential and non-residential STCs from March 31; and the teachers' contract was annulled the same day

Opened in 2010, the scheme was to continue for three years, after the centre had put in 60% of the money and the state had contributed 40%.

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