22,738 children identified in State for mainstreaming in 2013-14

The number of children who are out of school and identified for mainstreaming in 2013-14 is nearly half of what it was in 2012-13, according to official figures revealed by the child census.

However, strikingly, Bangalore Urban continues to have the most number of out-of-school children just as last year, far higher than even the deprived districts of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region where educational and other human development indicators are generally far lower compared with the State capital.

While out-of-school children targeted for mainstreaming in the State in 2012-13 was 51,994, it is 22,738 for 2013-14. Of this target for the current year, 4,505 children are from Bangalore, the next highest being Gulbarga which has 2,068 out-of-school children. Bidar district, which has secured the worst pass percentage in the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examination for three years in a row, has less than a fourth of out-of-school children compared with Bangalore, at 922.

Though Bangalore figures show a significant decline from last year which was 8,774, the high presence of out-of-school children here reflects a trend of migration into the city.

Informal sector

The big informal sector of Bangalore, particularly the construction industry, draws huge labour force from other districts, and typically, children from these families drop out of school to join their parents. The tough challenge has been retention in schools rather than enrolment. It is this factor that makes many child rights activists believe that official figures do not reflect the whole picture as this migratory population is fluid.

In an effort to prevent dropouts, Karnataka’s Education Department recently created a unique code for every child in the schooling system and a centralised database will allow for tracking his or her educational record till the completion of standard 10.