In some cases, parents stop children from going to school, finds SSA survey

There are 132 children out of school in the 7-13 age group in Dakshina Kannada, according to a latest study done by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

N. Shivaprakash, Deputy District Coordinator for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Dakshina Kannada, told The Hindu that the survey was conducted between December 10 and 15, 2012. Migration was the leading cause of children being out of school, he said.

Of the 132 children, 131 are dropouts and one never joined any school. There were three reasons for children being away from school and all the reasons posed varying degrees of challenge to officials of the Education Department in the district in resolving the problem, he said.

The main reason (in 78 of the 132 children) for being out of school was migration, said Geetha, Assistant Project Coordinator, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, who led the census to find the number of children out of school in the district. She said that following the finding of the census, officials tried to track down the children’s whereabouts by trying to find where they had moved from Dakshina Kannada district but found it “very difficult” to trace them.

The second reason was that some (two or three cases) children suffer from health problems that prevented them from attending school. However, there was an alternative for such children as the department can provide home-based classes to them, she said.

There was yet another reason, which she described as “very challenging” to officials. This was in cases where the child was eager to attend school but was prevented from doing so by the parents. There appeared to be a problem not with the child but with the parents in such cases. However, she said that the challenge could be tackled with the help of other government departments. “We have a very low number of children attending school. Then there are such problems. But we won’t let go. We will contact the Child Welfare Commission and take help from the Childline to see how the children can be brought to school,” she said.

After the census, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan officials have discussed individual cases of out-of-school children with the Block Resource Persons (BRPs) concerned, she said.

The census helped identify 11 children who were out of school in Talapady. They were admitted to the government school in Talapady, she said.

The census was carried out by 114 groups, each representing one cluster of government schools. Each group consisted of one teacher, one anganwadi worker, and one representative of a nongovernmental organisation (NGO). The NGOs that participated in the census included Prajna Counselling Centre and Padi from Mangalore city, Vimukti from Belthangady and Praja Yatna in Moodbidri. Each group covered three schools and one habitation each day, she said.