They have to monitor admission, attendance of every child at primary level

Education coordinators at the block level, who have been given the additional task of being the ‘attendance authority’ to monitor admission and attendance of every child at the primary level, say this will only add to their workload.

The education coordinators, five in each block, at present conduct school inspections, assess the progress of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), monitor examinations and keep a watch on the various government schemes such as the Ksheera Bhagya, Akshara Dasoha and scholarships.

What has brought on the new responsibility is the change in the definition of a ‘school dropout’. While a child who was absent from school for 60 days was considered a dropout earlier, now a child who does not attend school for seven days without prior permission is considered a dropout. This, in effect, means that an education coordinator will have to monitor every child’s attendance every week and make interventions whenever needed.

Order

The government passed an order on September 16 that all education coordinators working under block education officers (BEOs) would function as attendance authority.

“How can they possibly do justice to the new task given that they have so many responsibilities already?” a BEO from Bangalore said, and added that two of the five posts of education coordinator in his block were vacant. “In my block alone there are over 200 government schools, apart from aided and unaided schools, monitored by the three people,” he said.

No escape

Subodh Yadav, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’s State Project Director, said there was no escape from the new responsibility for the coordinators. He said the government was planning to bring about changes in the Karnataka Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2012, to underscore the roles and responsibilities of the attendance authority.

“It is a complex process and we will also identify why a child was out of school. Based on that, we will provide incentives to ensure a child remains in school,” he said.

‘Tedious’

Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights H.R. Umesh Aradhya said the recent decisions taken by the department appear to be a “patchwork” in the light of the High Court case on out-of-school children. He said the seven-day period might be too “tedious” for the authorities and was unlikely to work. “A longer period like 15 days may help the authorities track the child more effectively,” he said.

V.P. Niranjan Aradhya, fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, emphasised the need for “participatory method” which includes teachers, headmasters and members of the School Development and Management Committee in ensuring that there were no dropouts. “Involving the attendance authority may lead to harassment of teachers,” he said.