63% of school dropouts in Karnataka in 11 to 13 age group: Survey

Most leave the education system after completing lower primary classes, reveals a study by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

July 07, 2017 11:54 pm | Updated 11:54 pm IST - Bengaluru

Nearly 63% of children who dropped out of school prior to the commencement of this academic year are between the ages of 11 and 13, indicating that most leave the education system after completing lower primary classes. This trend was revealed in a recent survey by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) to identify ‘out-of-school’ children across Karnataka ahead of the 2017–18 academic year.

After completing lower primary classes, students sometimes have to enrol in another school to continue with their education, which could be a deterrent. While every village has a primary school, this is not the case with upper primary or high schools. Many take up jobs to help their families. All these concerns need to be addressed, said experts. The policy to look into how migrant children could be brought into the mainstream is yet to get the government approval.

The SSA identified 7,807 children between the ages of seven and 13 who had dropped out before the start of the academic year. Another 511 are children who never enrolled in school. This brings the total number of children in the State who have either dropped out of school or not enrolled in one to 8,318.

About 49% of the 7,807 children are those belonging to the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes category; 48.9% are from minority communities and other backward classes. The maximum number of out-of-school children are from Bengaluru Urban (1,739), followed by Kalaburagi (1,389). Vijayapura district has the best record, reporting only seven such children.

The fact that children are not completing their education has been in focus since April 2013 after the High Court took suo motu cognisance of the issue. Last year, the Education Department identified 9,468 out-of-school children.

Kathyayini Chamaraj, executive trustee of CIVIC Bangalore, an intervener in the case, said the data shows that all the processes that were institutionalised after 2013 are not functional. “Officers have been appointed as attendance authorities to keep a track of children who don’t attend school for seven consecutive days. If officers did their job and remained vigilant, then there would be no fresh children who drop out of school,” she said. She also pointed out that the high-level committee that was headed by the Chief Secretary had not met for about a year now to discuss the interventions.

Inconsistent data collection?

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has listed an additional 8,687 children who were identified as out-of-school children last year and are yet to be brought into the mainstream education system. However, 14 districts have claimed that they do not have any such children.

These children include those who are in madrasas and in seasonal residential and seasonal non-residential schools. “The Education Department has identified these students as they are potential dropouts and there is a need for specific interventions for them,” an official in the department said. In fact, 2,097 of the 8,687 children who are not in school are those enrolled in madrasas in Bidar and Kalaburagi districts. None of the other districts has contributed to this data.

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