Mumbai: Is the out-of-school scheme out of favour?

A survey was conducted by the state education department on July 4 to find children who weren’t in school; there has been no word on their admissions process from the department since, and so the BMC hasn’t informed schools about this

For the past few days, 12-year-old Zara Sheikh’s (name changed) parents have been waiting to hear from officials in the education department, who had promised to get their daughter admitted in a nearby school.

The survey was done to reach out to all students who are out of school and encourage them to attend classes regularly, as per the RTE Act. File pic
The survey was done to reach out to all students who are out of school and encourage them to attend classes regularly, as per the RTE Act. File pic

But since the much-hyped and celebrated out-of-school survey conducted by the state education department on July 4, they have not heard anything from them. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) education department was keen on ensuring admission for all the 8,126 children in the city who were found to be out of school, but it seems the BMC, as well as state education department officials, are waiting for each other to initiate the process.

“There has been no word from the state education department about the admission process, and we are currently following the High Court order to confirm admissions of entry level students who were allotted seats online under the Right to Education (RTE) Act,” said Shambhavi Jogi, BMC education officer.

She added that since the state education department had not been persistent on the admission of out-of-school children, the BMC education department has not informed schools about the same. The survey was conducted in order to reach out to all students who are out of school and encourage them to attend school regularly, as per the RTE Act.

The surveyors (teachers, education officials) were allotted a street, or an area, and were directed to knock on every door. While the out-of-school children were marked on their left hand with a permanent marker, their parents were asked to fill a form with details of the last school attended by the child, if any, and at what level he/she dropped out.

They were also asked to identify the school they would like their child to attend. However, till date none of the schools have received any circular from the BMC or state education department. “RTE clearly states that the local governing body, in this case the BMC, is supposed to oversee the admissions process.

Just as they are ensuring that schools enrol students under the RTE quota, the process of admitting out-of-school children too is their responsibility,” said a senior official from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). For the time being, with no word from the education department, schools are happy that no admission is being enforced on them.

“School is already in session and if new students are given admission, it’ll be a tough task for the children to adjust. The government should think things clearly before enforcing rules,” said Avinash Rao, a teacher from an Andheri school.

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