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25K kids out of school or have not gone to school ever in Maha: Survey

More than 25,000 students in Maharashtra have either not gone to school ever or have been out of school due to their inability to attend classes, data compiled by a state-organised survey has revealed
By Ankita Bhatkhande, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON APR 29, 2021 01:54 AM IST

More than 25,000 students in Maharashtra have either not gone to school ever or have been out of school due to their inability to attend classes, data compiled by a state-organised survey has revealed. This includes 10,820 (43%) students from Mumbai city and suburbs.

Responding to concerns around dropouts during the last few months due to Covid-19 and the resultant lockdown, the state education department had launched a drive between March 1 and 10 to identify out-of-school students across the state. Officials in the education department and staff members and teachers of schools in the state undertook a survey of students in their localities to collate this data. Of the 36 districts, data could be collected in 33 districts.

Districts such as Amravati, Aurangabad and Buldhana could not be surveyed due to rising Covid-19 infections during the time.

As per the data, only 288 students were found engaged in child labour, while 1,212 students could not attend, as they were children with special needs. The education department now plans to come up with guidelines to ensure all these students are re-enrolled into schools.

Students who have never gone to school and those who have not attended regularly are considered to be out-of-school students as per the survey. As per data shared by the education department, more than 14,000 students have migrated from the state to other states, of which majority students – 8,801 are from Mumbai city and suburbs. In all, over 10,000 students have migrated from Mumbai to other districts or states as per the data.

During the lockdown, data shows an in-migration of 7784 students in the state.

Experts said numbers that have come out of the survey cannot be taken seriously, as they are underreported.

“The number seems to be severely underreported. We need to understand that the survey was conducted in a situation where it was not safe to conduct door-to-door surveys. Hence, we do not know if the teachers and staff members have been able to reach each student,” said Ghanshyam Sonar, convenor of the All-India RTE forum.

Sonar said in the coming days, the government should devise a mechanism wherein students and parents themselves will be able to register the fact they are not able to attend schools.

“A phone number can be created where students or parents can give a missed call and then details of such students can be checked and reported. The drive however should be widely popularised to get a more realistic figure,” he added.

Heramb Kulkarni, a Pune-based educationist, said, “It is unbelievable that the number of out-of-school students and those engaged in child labour can be this low. Year after year, these surveys happen and realistic numbers never come forward. The government should engage NGOs and other organisations working on the grassroots if it really wishes to get a real picture of out of school students and act towards bringing them back into schools.”

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