Updated: January 21, 2021 1:33:29 pm
Almost 10% of children aged between 6 and 17 have either dropped out, discontinued or never attended school — most of them reportedly on account of financial strain — according to the Delhi government’s socio-economic survey covering 1.02 crore people.
The survey, conducted between November 2018 and November 2019, was finalised in November 2020.
Of 22,70,497 children between the ages 6 to 17 surveyed, it was found that 2,21,694 were not attending school. Of these, 1,31,584 had reported that they had attended school before —meaning that they either dropped out or discontinued their education. The remaining 90,110 reported that they have never been to school.
Following The Indian Express report summarising the findings of the survey last week, Delhi education officials of the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan have written to the Planning Department — under which the survey was conducted — requesting details on the children found to be out of school in order to trace them.
Under Samagra Shiksha, education department officials trace ‘Out of School Children’ every year and try to enroll them in Special Training Centres (STCs), which work to prepare them for entry into mainstream school at an age-appropriate class.
In 2019-2020, they had identified 36,813 such children. Of these, 5,176 had directly been enrolled to school and 27,202 had been mainstreamed after enrollment to STCs.
“After I saw the newspaper report, I wrote to the planning department to ask for details of these children so we can work towards tracing them. My concern is that we might not be able to catch all these children because of outward migration during the lockdown. Even if they have returned to the city, they might not be found at the same place. But even if we are able to trace a small number of children, we will try,” said Kavita Rana, assistant project director, Samagra Shiksha.
The focus of these efforts are trained on children aged between 6 and 14 in line with the Right to Education Act. But as is the case around the country, the report found that a majority of these children not attending school, 1,15,465, are aged 14 and above.
Within the age category of 6 to 14 years, a substantial number of children not in school are adolescent girls aged 11 to 14. Of 26,174 girls of these ages out of school, 7,483 were reported to be on account of financial constraint and 4,635 because they were engaged in domestic duties.
Across all age categories, financial constraint has been reported as the reason for not attending school for 29.17% of children; domestic duties for 13.5%; 12.7% reported having attained the “desired level of education”, and 35.79% are under the broad umbrella of “others”, which includes disability, mental illness, lack of interest and no admission.
For children below six years of age, anganwadi centres (AWCs) are supposed to provide supplementary nutrition as well as early childhood education to those from working-class families. The report found that 55.4% of children in this age category are attending AWCs. However, owing to the widespread financial distress of the past year, Women and Child Development department officials stated that the enrollment has increased by over 1,00,000 since the start of the pandemic.
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