734 school dropouts are Muslims: census

Savitha Suresh Babu

Children in madrassas in Dakshina Kannada considered to be ‘out-of-school’

Efforts to be made to formally educate such children

No instances of child labour found in the district

MANGALORE: As many as 734 school dropouts identified in Dakshina Kannada are from the Muslim community. This may be because children who attend madrassas are also considered to be “out-of-school”.

Assistant Project Officer, Sarva Shikshana Abhiyan, Geetha Shetty told The Hindu that children in most madrassas were taught only Arabic and religious texts. Since these children did not receive formal education in subjects such as mathematics, science and social studies, they were considered to be “out-of-school”.

In order to rectify this situation, plans were on to appoint volunteers from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to teach general subjects at the madrassas. This would be done in consultation with the heads of religious schools, Ms. Shetty said. The volunteers would be paid their salaries through the abhiyan, she added.

The number of “out-of-school” children and the reasons for the situation were identified through a child census conducted in February. Apart from religion, physical disability and migration of parents were the other reasons for children dropping out of school. No instances of child labour were found in the district. Attempts would be made to being all these children under the ambit of formal education, Ms. Shetty said. Home-based training would be provided to children with physical disability. Another census would be conducted in July to find out how many of these children had been readmitted to the formal education system.

The trend of Muslim students being left out of the formal schooling system was noticed in last year’s census too. In all, 1, 034 school dropouts were identified in 2006. Of these, only 10 could not be readmitted to schools. Eight of these children, from Puttur and Belthangady taluks, were from Muslim families, Ms. Shetty said.

Although the age group of children dropping out of school varied from seven to 14, many girl students, especially in the villages, were found to drop out after the seventh standard. This was because attending schools involved travelling long distances, which some parents objected to, Ms. Shetty said.

Efforts to be made to formally educate such children

No instances of child labour found in the district

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