Raising an objection to the official figure of 79,000 out-of-school children in the state,civil society members have termed it as an eyewash and projected the actual number of these disadvantaged children to be around 10 lakh.
The experts have also lambasted the state School Education Department for not taking pro-active measures to ensure children benefit from the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act,2009,and for passing on the responsibility to the School Management Committees (SMCs).
J S Saharia,Additional Chief Secretary,School Education Department,said the number of the out-of-school children is around 79,000 and the SMCs are making all possible efforts to cover these children under the RTE Act.
RTE state representative Suryakant Kulkarni said the governments figure of out-of school children is an eyewash. The number of out-of school children in every district of the state is between 10,000 and15,000. Backward districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha account for more. The conservative estimates puts the number around 10 lakh, he said.
Activist Suniti S R ridiculed the government for coming out with an evasive figure of these children.
It appears the government data on the underprivileged children is based on bogus enrollments in schools,which also made news in the recent past, she said.
On the government relying heavily on SMCs,activists said large number of schools were yet to form these panels.
The government has no record of SMCs formed so far. These SMCs are expected to only help government in enrolling the out-of school children. It is the responsibility of government to secure future of these children, said Kulkarni.