A software to track and monitor out-of-school children who have been mainstreamed or inducted into a school this academic year, is close to being completed.

Officials of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the Central government’s programme to ensure universal elementary education, are working on a war-footing to implement the software in two pilot districts, Tiruchy and Tirvannamalai by February. The software will be put in place in all other districts in Tamil Nadu by March, SSA officials said.

Work on the software had begun earlier this year, but was delayed. It has three components: every child’s profile with photograph, a continuous assessment report of the inducted students on a monthly basis, and monitoring of the progress of the student by officials.

The software aims to enumerate both out-of-school children between the 6-14 age group who are attending formal school, and those who are in residential and non-residential special training centres of the SSA. Data for this is being collected by SSA staff, and is being fed into the software, said officials.

According to the SSA, development of the software was outsourced to a private company. The software, they say, will increase accountability. At present, manual records are maintained. “With the manual records, we have to rely on Block Resource Teacher Educators (BRTEs) to go to the blocks, check the progress of students and make an entry in the register. Even with the software, it is the BRTEs who have to make the entry, but if the data is not updated periodically, a status of ‘inactive’ will be displayed and so we will know exactly when data entries are being made,” the official said.

The process, officials, said, was delayed because it is entails the collection of detailed information, and at many stages, there were bugs in the software, which needed to be fixed. “It should have been completed by December but has been getting delayed. SSA is trying to finish the work quickly now, as we have to enumerate the number of out-of-school children and feed the data into the system by February, which is when the funds for the next year are allocated,” the official said.

While work on the child profile has been completed, assessment data has only been collected manually, and is yet to be fed into the software in the two districts, officials said. The survey of out-of-school children, was completed in May for this academic year.

Under another SSA survey underway simultaneously, details about an ‘adopter’ for each child are also being collected.

“Through the adopter, who can be a parent, guardian, teacher, among others, the SSA can track the progress made by the child and ensure that he/she has not dropped out,” an official said.

“In the current year, we identified 60,000 out-of-school children, but were able to provide intervention only to 48,000 students due to various reasons, chiefly migration. With the software in place, we will link the adopter details, making it easier for us to track the child. Since data is being collected at the block level, we will be able to track the child within Tamil Nadu,” said an official.