The number of children in Special Training Centres who could not even identify the alphabet reduced by around 19% after a reading campaign held in December 2018, as per figures presented by the education department’s Universal Elementary Education (UEE) mission.
Special Training Centres are bridge learning centres in government and municipal schools to prepare Out-of-School Children (OoSC) for enrollment in age-appropriate classes in mainstream schools. A total of 14,672 OoSC were part of the campaign across all STCs in the city, which had opened by the end of November. As of February, there were 561 STCs across the city. The campaign, which focused on reading, was conducted using material developed for the Delhi government’s ‘Mission Buniyaad’ learning campaign.
The number of STCs are increasing every month, as more OoSC are identified. The aim is to set up at least one STC classroom in every government and municipal school. Last year, a survey conducted by the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) identified 1,306 out-of-school children. SSA is also looking to partner with the Labour Dept and District Child Protection Units.
As per the baseline assessment, 38.1% of the children assessed could not identify alphabet. The figure reduced to 18.9% post-assessment. Also, while only 11.2% of the assessed children were able to read a full paragraph at the beginning of the month, it increased to 24.5% in post-assessment.
Officials said more intensive campaigns will be held on other basic competencies in the future. In the first phase in April, the focus will be on alphabet recognition, and word and sentence formation in Hindi. In August, focus will be on numbers, addition and subtraction, and in December, students will learn basic language skills in English.
Children enrolled in STCs are aged between 6 and 14 and have either dropped out or have never been enrolled in a school. In Delhi, a majority are dropouts. STCs aim to provide children with skills to cope with mainstream classrooms. Children who were enrolled in STCs in the past year are currently undergoing the admission process in government and MCD schools. Education department officials said they will soon share the number of children who were successfully mainstreamed.
“This kind of focus on basic skills should happen in STCs always. Unfortunately, measurement of levels has not been happening. Feedback for the campaign was positive and the attendance of children was good,” said an official in the UEE Mission.