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| Last Updated:: 06/09/2014

State’s 66,338 children out of school

 State’s 66,338 children out of school … and still counting

The Hindu by Tanu Kulkarni, Bangalore, 4th September 2014

DPI’s efforts to reduce dropouts found wanting: More than one-and-a-half years after the High Court took up a suo motu case that brought to focus the issue of Out of School Children (OOSC), efforts taken up by the Department of Public Instruction do not seem good enough.


The department’s records show that 66,338 children of the 1.68 Lakh children continue to remain out of school as of September 1, even though the High Court’s initial deadline to ensure that all of them are in school was the beginning of this academic year. Worse still, the attendance authorities, who in March 2014 were vested with the responsibility of mainstreaming OOSC and ensuring they do not drop out of school have issued only 1,214 notices across the State to parents and guardians of the effected children, even though 66,338 children continue to remain out of school.


Taking note of this, the High Court had come down heavily on the DPI in June this year, saying that the State government was not taking the issue seriously. Accordingly, the government had issued a circular to attendance authorities recalling their responsibilities.


Ironically, not a single child out of school has been produced before the Child Welfare Committee. “When the department has not even issued notices, producing a child before the CWC and providing economic assistance is a distant dream,” a department source said. A Block Education Officer said his attendance authority had gone to issue notices to eight children, but failed to locate even a single child or the parent as the families had migrated. As many as 26,680 children of the 66,338 children have been classified as ‘migrated’.


Mohammad Mohsin, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said Deputy Directors of Public Instruction, at a meeting recently, were urged to step up their efforts on this. “We have also asked attendance authorities to keep a close watch on families that are likely to migrate so that their children do not drop out of school and can be kept in the government hostels or residential schools to continue their education,” he said.


Kathyayini Chamaraj of Civic Bangalore, an intervener in the case, said the fact that only 1,214 notices were issued shows that the attendance authorities are not activated enough. “There is a dire need to train the attendance authority and also ensure that there is a penal clause if they fail to perform their duties,” she said.


She also said there was a need to train headmasters, gram panchayat and local body officials to bring students to school. “If attendance authorities face hurdles, they can seek the help of special juvenile police and the counsellors,” Ms. Chamaraj added.