The Principal Secretary of Maharashtra School Education and Sports Department, Nand Kumar, has asked the CEOs and commissioners of district collectorates and municipal corporations across the state to ensure all out-of-school children are sent back to school within eight days. “If I can see out-of-school children on the road with their migrant labour parents, then why can’t others?” Kumar wrote to them in a letter issued two days ago.
In the letter, Kumar asks the top brass of the local administrative bodies to ensure that block education officers conduct a survey of all out-of-school children in their respective areas and ensure these children are admitted to schools. He has also for an action taken report (ATR) within eight days.
Incidentally, a fortnight ago, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, which had been hearing a PIL filed by a local activist on out-of-school children, had directed the state government to undertake a fresh survey and submit the report before March 31, 2018. “My instructions are not a result of the HC order, which I have not received yet but we will fulfill. Actually, in the last fortnight, I visited at least eight districts where I undertook review meetings on the status of bringing 100 per cent students in schooling system. It is based on my observations that I have issued the orders,” said Kumar.
In his order, he mentions that “during morning walks, I would see children of school-going age living in makeshift settlements with their parents. These included children who had never been to school, refused admission for lack of birth certificates, children who left education midway and children who had not received education guarantee cards…”.
Asked about the same, he said that in the current season, a lot of migration happens among working communities. “In October 2015, we had started a big campaign on bringing out-of-school children into formal schooling system. But it is evident that there is no 100 per cent success in it as we had hoped. The proof remains in the children of migrant labourers who are seen on the streets. The ones whom I met came from other districts with no record in the district they were currently living in, not admitted to local school and no education guarantee card. This is defeating the purpose of our campaign and that’s why the state education department wants that in these eight days, all block education officers should take stock of the situation in their areas, bring these students on record and in schools,” he added.
In the instructions issued to the local administrative bodies, block education officers have been asked to visit areas near sugar factories, brick kilns and construction sites as usually migrant families are found there. The officers have been asked to prepare a complete list, along with district/taluka information of all children, get them admitted to the nearest school from the spot of migration and also get an education guarantee card issued by the district from which the students have migrated from.