Gujarat: Survey to focus on children who dropped out after Class 8

RITU SHARMA
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Children of age group 6-18 will be identified and tracked individually using mapping technology. (File photo)

In order to address the issue of high drop-out rate in secondary level, this year’s annual survey by Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has been extended to identify drop-outs till 18 years of age, with focus on children who dropped out after Class 8.

Children of age group 6-18 in areas, including slums, railway stations, religious places, traffic signals, areas around cinema halls, remand homes, women shelter homes, independent organisations, forests and coastal as well as mountain areas, will be identified and tracked individually using mapping technology.

The survey, which earlier used to cover children of age group 6 to 14, is being conducted from February 1 to 28 this time. Awareness would be created among parents of children “never enrolled” through community mobilisation programmes.

P Bharathi, SSA state project director (SPD), told The Indian Express, “To address the high drop-out rate in secondary classes, the survey aims at tracking every child who dropped out after Class 8. We are also trying to find out what these children are currently enganged in.”

While the state has been able to substantially address drop-out rate in primary classes, it is still battling the high drop-out rate in secondary classes, which is worse among girls. In 2018, the education department identified 121 talukas out of total nearly 250 in the state where the total drop-out rate between Class 8 and 9 was more than 20 per cent.

The annual enrollment drives of the education department — Shala Praveshotsav and Kanya Kelavani — were held in secondary schools in these 121 talukas for the first time, instead of primary schools. In the survey, data of drop-outs from District Information System for Education (DISE) will be taken and verified to ensure they are enrolled in the coming academic session. Government school teachers in the neighbourhood have to ensure that “never-enrolled” children are admitted to schools.

“Labour and employment departments also will be roped in this year to explore possibilities of providing skill training to the drop-outs,” added P Bharathi. The education department’s survey will work in close co-ordination with the health department for cross-verification of actual birth figures and find out the “untracked” children.

As per an internal report by the Gujarat education department in 2019, ahead of the 2020-21 academic session and the annual state-wide enrolment drive, Shala Praveshotsav, based on data sourced from Civil Registration System (CRS) for birth records and District Information System for Education (DISE) for school enrolment, it was revealed that 7 and 6 per cent children were “untracked” in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

According to the CRS records for 2011, as many as 12,14,550 births were reported in the state. Corresponding to this figure, subsequently in the academic session 2016-17 (when a child turns age five to six, the school going age), while 7,00,245 children were enrolled in government schools, another 3,81,255 in private schools and 45,365 to private schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Thus, as many as 87,685 children or 7 per cent of the children were not tracked in any of the official records.

For 2012, CRS data shows 12,15,066 child births and the admission data under DISE was compared for the academic year 2017-18. While 6,95,537 children were enrolled in government schools and around 3,90,882 were admitted to private schools and another 55,100 enrolled under the RTE Act’s 25 per cent reservation for economically weaker and disadvantaged groups. However, 73,547 children remained “untracked” by government records. This is over 6 per cent of the total births that was “untracked”.