With a high number of out-of-school children in Chhattisgarh, experts say the thrust should be given to establish an education-friendly environment and ensure basic facilities to attract children to educational institutes in the tribal-dominated state.
“It is shocking that even after 67 years of Independence, more than 90,000 children in the state have never been enrolled in any school. The government and citizens should introspect on the issue,” Chhattisgarh’s RTE (Right to Education) Forum convener Gautam Bandopadhyay said.
As per a national survey conducted by Social and Rural Research Institute in Delhi for the HRD Ministry on estimation of out-of-school children in the age group of 6-13 years countrywide in 2014, 1,67,072 children out of 44,59,796 were out of schools in Chhattisgarh.
About 3.75 per cent children are out of schools in Chhattisgarh, which is higher than the national average of 2.97 per cent), according to the survey.
The survey found that 94,317 children in 6-13 age group have never been enrolled in any school, which is 56.45 per cent of the total children out-of-school.
Besides, 71,532 children dropped out from school and the maximum dropouts in this age group were after Class II, as per the survey.
Earning compulsions, lack of interest, migration, socio-culture reasons, household work, lack of access, failure and non-flexibility in school timing are some of the major reasons cited by the survey for children not being in schools.
“Government is running several schemes ranging from mid-day meal, free school uniforms, bicycles, books and many more in its efforts to make success its literacy mission. All these efforts would only yield concrete results if focus is concurrently given to make teachers skilled, particularly in government schools, along with providing basic amenities like drinking water and toilets,” Bandopadhyay said.
However, there is also a need to generate awareness among masses so that they realise their duty to create an education-friendly environment for better future of their children, he said.
Equally concerned over the findings, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Chairperson Shatabdi Pandey said a state like Chhattisgarh, where a major chunk of population resides in rural areas, requires literacy programmes not only for children, but for the parents too.
As many as 1,58,792 children in 6-13 years age group were out-of-schools in the state’s rural areas in 2014, of which 91,297 were boys and 67,494 girls.
The figure stood at 8,280 in urban areas in which 3,415 were boys and 4,866 were girls, says the survey report.
In rural areas, total 1,16,011 children belonging to Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, 2,410 of Scheduled Caste (SC) and 40,370 of Other Backward Classes (OBC) were out of school.
Similarly, 3,415 children of ST category were reported to be out-of-school in urban areas of the state, but no child from SC and OBC was found out-of-school in this age group.
“During a health research in Bastar, I found that villagers are hardly interested in sending their children to schools. The government had long back started a ‘Praudh Shiksha’ programme to educate the adults, mainly farmers and labourers, but it was suspended later. The programme had then claimed a huge response in remote areas. Such kind of schemes should be reinstated to make villagers realise the necessity of education for their children,” Pandey said.
“We will write to the education department in this direction,” she said.
Moreover, proper training of teachers, so that they can make learning more interactive, and use of new technology could be the other measures to attract students to schools as well as check the dropout rate, she added.
Also, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in Chhattisgarh has identified around 40,000 children in 6-13 age bracket who are out of schools this year.
“We are consistently making efforts to bring down the graph of children out-of-school, not enrolled in school and dropouts. This year the department has identified 40,000 out of school children across the state and they will be enrolled in the current academic session,” SSA, Chhattisgarh, Director Mohammad Qaiser Abdul Haque told PTI.
A sharp decline was witnessed in drop out students and children out-of-school in plain areas of the state, but the challenges are in the tribal-dominated regions mostly which are Naxal-affected, he said.
The officer also explained that ‘Shala Praveshotsav’, a flagship campaign introduced by the state government to make sure cent per cent admission of children falling in the age group of 6-13, could emerge as an effective solution for the problem.