A day-long survey in Maharashtra to find out-of-school children

The state education dept will conduct the survey on July 4 to reach out to these children and encourage them to attend school

After much discussion and no permanent solution despite it to solve the problem of children who are out-of-school, the state education department is now all set to conduct a day-long survey across the state to find these children.

The officials say the survey will also aid them to ensure children reap the benefits of the Right to Education Act. Pic for representation
The officials say the survey will also aid them to ensure children reap the benefits of the Right to Education Act. Pic for representation

To be conducted on July 4, the purpose, say officials, is not just to reach out to all children but also encourage them to attend school and reap the benefits of Right to Education (RTE) Act. The education department has put together a task force using all education officials, teachers, as well as officials from the health department to put together this data.

“In rural parts it will be easier to find children who aren’t attending school, but the real challenge would be to do so in bigger cities like Mumbai. In order to ensure that we reach out to all children, each official has been allocated 100 households to visit and find if all children there are attending school regularly,” said P R Pawar, deputy director (system analytics), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

He added that this day-long survey is being conducted in order to make sure that all children attend school, and complete minimum elementary education, and at the same time schools are also being encouraged to accept admissions of students under the RTE quota. RTE also highlights the need for state governments to reach out to children across all socio-economic strata and join schools.

While teachers are in agreement with the government in order to look for out-of-school children, they have their doubts. “The government, on one hand, is demanding to know how many children are not in schools, but at the same time they have also disregarded the education of children studying at various madrassas in the state. It is a very unfair stand,” said Uday Nare, a teacher from Hansraj Morarji School in Andheri (W).

Forum objects
Meanwhile, the Unaided Schools’ Forum has raised objections to their school teachers being asked to leave their school work and instead participate in this survey. “This is not like census or election duty that teachers are supposed to do over school work.

RTE gives clear guidelines that other than these two duties, teachers should not be called for any work during duty hours,” said S C Kedia, honorary secretary of Unaided Schools’ Forum. What’s worse is that schools have been told those who fail to send their teachers, will face disciplinary action, including cancellation of the school’s recognition.

The forum has also written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis about these “arm-twisting” techniques adopted by the education department. “Teaching is such a noble cause and to think of the kind of work our government expects teachers should do, paints a very sad picture.

Our state government is now expecting teachers to leave their classes, and instead go to various slums, railway stations and bus stands to look for children who aren’t attending school,” said Kedia, and added that working from 7am to 7pm on July 4 for the survey is expecting too much from teachers.

The Forum has requested CM to advice the municipal and other education commissioners to take back this compulsion. “We are ready to take this to court if need be,” he added.

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