1.7L kids are out of school in Karnataka
BANGALORE: The state government's claim that there are only a little over 50,000 out of school children (OOSC) in Karnataka has been demolished, ironically, by its own recent survey. The new survey that was carried out following a high court order now puts the number of children not attending school at 1,70,525. That's clearly over thrice the earlier figure computed last year.
Worse, Bangalore South is home to the largest of them. As many as 18,393 children have been identified as OOSC here. The four northern states account for 33% of the total children not attending school. Gulbarga with 15,468 children figures second in the list. Raichur has 12,128, Yadgir 11,197 and Bellary 10,747 OOSC each.
Explaining the reason for Bangalore South's dismal figures, a senior education department official said, "The high numbers are mainly due to migration. Bangalore South has regions like Anekal, K R Puram, BTM Layout, Electronic City, Vijayanagar, Jayanagar, Basavanagudi and Magadi Road. There is a lot of construction work happening in these areas. This includes both apartment construction and Metro work."
In stark contrast, Bangalore North has 7,742 children not attending classes. The best performers are Uttara Kannada with 686 children, Udupi (1,008) and Dakshina Kannada (1,503).
The Karnataka High Court had asked the state to conduct a comprehensive survey on the number of out of school children in a suo motu case. The case was initiated by the court following a newspaper report on OOSC despite the Right to Education law in place. Also, an NGO had claimed that the actual number of OOSC in Karnataka was six lakh.
Survey in Nov:
The education department went for a detailed household survey between November 13 and 17, covering 90 lakh households. Details were picked up from schools, public places were searched and a detailed scrutiny was conducted for children between 7 and 14 years of age.
The criterion for naming a child out of school too changed. Earlier, a student had to be absent from class for 60 days to be considered OOSC. The period was shortened to seven days of absence without intimation. It opened a website where the public could report on OOSC. An inter-department high-powered coordination committee was constituted to work on the issue of retaining children in school.
It took the high court's intervention to puncture the state government's claims on school attendance. Numbers don't matter really, but approach does. While the government has taken the right step in acknowledging its mistake, it has much more to do. There are several reasons why children don't attend school — from poverty, inaccessibility, discrimination to other socio-economic factors. While these need to be tackled, getting children to school will work only if the quality of teaching and functioning of schools drastically improve. Essentially, education needs a systemic, seismic change.