Owing to fears that the recent floods in north Karnataka may increase the dropout rate among schoolchildren in the affected areas, plans are afoot to open new Asha Kirana residential schools, tent schools and bridge course centres in those areas to overcome dropout problem and ensure academic progress of the children.

Having lost houses and livelihood in the devastating floods, many debt-ridden farm labourers and marginal farmers are considering migrating to cities in search of jobs. This will deprive their children of schooling.

Taking the issue seriously, the State office of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), has asked the Block Education Officers (BEOs) in the affected districts to open new centres of Asha Kirana, targeting migrant children.

“We have established Asha Kirana centres in the districts which are affected by floods, keeping in view the seasonal labour migration. However, in view of fears expressed that the recent floods may increase drop-out rate because of migration by the affected people, steps have been taken to open more such centres in the affected areas to cater to more number of affected children,” SSA State Project Director S. Selva Kumar said.

Mr. Kumar told The Hindu that the affected people migrating to other places could leave their children at the temporary residential centres which take care of their education, accommodation and boarding. The residential centres are already functioning at some places (identified as potential drop-out areas) in the affected districts since they had been established taking into consideration frequent migration of the people there. The centres are either run by the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or government agencies.

In places (within the State) where the people migrate looking for livelihood, steps would be taken to establish more tent schools and bridge centres depending on the number of children to be rehabilitated. The officers in the districts will coordinate and decide on establishing the centres on temporary basis in the affected districts and also in places where the children migrate. “With half of the academic year over, our priority is to ensure that their academic year is not hampered,” Mr. Kumar explained.

“We shall consider merging the residential centres with nearby schools, if necessary, in the areas to ensure academic progress of the children,” he said, adding that the interested NGOs would be asked to set up and run the new centres making arrangements for teachers.

Mr. Kumar said the authorities in the affected districts had been asked to make use of the annual grants released to them under SSA for the repair and construction of classrooms. “We have come across that school buildings are damaged in the floods. The funds available under SSA can be used to repair and construct damaged classrooms for the smooth functioning of the schools,” he added.

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