Despite education activists repeatedly putting the spotlight on children from unorganised sector families and child labourers, state education department’s administrative head, Additional Chief Secretary J H Saharia, says there are only 79,000 children across the state, who have either never been to school or have dropped out. Saharia was in the city yesterday to motivate 70 newly recruited Class 1 officers in the education department.
When asked what measures the government has taken for the effective implementation of the Right To Education Act (RTE) as a large number of children are still out of school he said, “The number of children out of school is only 79,000 across the state. It’s the responsibility of school management committees to identify such children and give them admission.”
He added, “It is mandatory according to RTE for schools to enrol such children. If any citizen goes to an education officer of a ZP and informs him about such children, according to the Act it is binding on the officer and schools to realise admissions for such children.”
When Saharia was told that in Pune many private schools don’t even entertain government officials he replied, “I haven’t heard of a single incident like that.”
According to education activists, the government’s figures are just eyewash to make light of the severity of the issue.
“There is absolutely no basis to these figures. The 79,000 children must be in Pune district alone,” said Sandeep Chavan, vice-president of Forum for Fairness in Education (FAIR).
Senior educationist Simantini Dhuru said, “We are currently working on issues of child labourers and one can find around 20,000 child labourers in a suburb of Mumbai alone. The figures gathered by the government may be children between the age groups of six and 14, which comes under the ambit of the RTE.”
CM meets edu department heads
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has called a special meeting with all directors of state education department next week to discuss various issues.
“The date has not yet been fixed. The CM wants to know the role of each and every department head,” said J H Saharia.