RTE:: A lakh left out

Gayathri | Thursday, October 6, 2016 1:06 PM IST

 Delhi government's plans for enrolling out-of-school children (OOSC) were based on small surveys and the assumption that, in a year, there are about 7,000-8,000 OOSC in Delhi.With data from the first round in, education administrators now find that they may have over 1 lakh out-of-school children on their hands.

At a September meeting, the Directorate of Education decided on starting special training centres (STCs) in all government and municipal schools — about 2,700 — to run bridge courses. Currently, there are 166. The DoE also decided to allow STCs with under 30 kids to run; 'relax norms for appointing teachers; and, six years after the Right to Education Act 2009 was implemented, frame a 'comprehensive' policy.

But practically no data on OOSCs is fully reliable. The Census 2011 data, admittedly old, placed over 2 lakh kids out of school in the seven-14 age-group. In the Ward Registry Survey, 5,137 dropped-out and 28,428 never enrolled. These are the only two attempts at a complete headcount. The rest — NSSO's 'Key Indicators of Social Consumption in India: Education' and SRI-IMRB's 'National Sample Survey of Estimation of Out-of-School Children in the Age 6-13 in India' — are sample surveys, once again with very different estimates.

Delhi's SSA division 'verified' data gathered by municipal bodies in one ward in every school district. 'Of the 1,150 kids we found across 12 wards, only about 100 were actually out-of-school. Some couldn't even be located,' says Babu.
Till now, STC staff were responsible for locating OOSCs — 'child-mapping' and STCs are both provisions of the RTE Act.

The Ward Education Registry — the household survey is being conducted by municipal bodies through teachers — was launched in November 2015, with another round in March-April 2016. By September 15, with about 14.38 lakh households covered and 33,565 OOSCs aged seven-14 found, the five municipal bodies declared the survey complete. But, judging by Census 2011 data, Delhi DoE's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) division estimates there are over 36.49 lakh households. 'If there are over 33,000 OOSCs from about 40% households, the actual number of kids could be in the region of 80,000 to 1 lakh,' says E. Raja Babu, state project director, SSA.