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Survey to identify school dropouts planned 'in haste'

Shruthi HM, Bangalore, Sep 3, 2013, DHNS :

Teachers say one person cannot visit 500 houses in a week

Less than rosy: Students enjoy their midday meals at the Kadugodi government school. The school, which is a part of the survey, has a high incidence of student dropouts. DH photo

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’s (SSA) ambitious week-long pilot survey to identify ‘Out Of School Children’ (OOSC) began on Monday but critics have found faults with the way it is being undertaken.

The programme aims to ascertain the number of out of school children in two selected educational clusters — Channasandra in the City and Dibbur in Chikkaballapur.

The survey commenced with an orientation to schoolteachers and NGO representatives. The manner in which the survey has been planned has invited much criticism from participants who are sceptic about its outcome. They felt the entire programme was planned in “haste”.

Giving an overview of how the pilot survey is going to be carried out, BEO South (Zone IV) told Deccan Herald the task began by collecting information from all schools in the cluster about students enrolled (and those who have dropped out) between 2011 and the ongoing academic year.

In the Channasandra cluster, there are 28 schools. According to the BEO, as many as 64 teams are working on it. A door-to-door census, which includes visits to hotels, bars and restaurants, is part of the survey. The SSA officials estimate there are 20,000 houses that fall under this cluster which is surrounded by industrial areas like Whitefield and ITPL and has large number of migrant labour settlements.

“Most students in our school belong to migrant families from Bihar and West Bengal. We find that many of our children who have dropped out work in hotels and bars. In case of girls, they are married off,” said the Headmaster of Kadugodi Government School, Mohan Modali.

‘Wrong estimate’

Schoolteachers taking part in the survey said the flaws in the planning began with the wrong estimate of the number. “No official has visited this cluster before. There are more than 20,000 houses here. The task just cannot be accomplished in a week,” said a government schoolteacher in Kadugodi.

Besides, the SSA had promised to form teams of four teachers each, which include an NGO representative and an anganwadi worker.

Teachers said no anganwadi workers had been deployed and there were very few NGO representatives. In effect, there is only one person in many of the teams expected to visit nearly 500 houses and compile the data. NGOs, on their part, said the SSA’s paltry remuneration — Rs 50 per day — was discouraging them.

‘No info to pvt schools’

Many private schools have not been intimated about the survey. Some schools that are aware of the survey have failed to cooperate with the census as they felt it was too short a notice.

“The entire survey is planned for a week. Private schools have sought at least three days’ time to provide their student records. After this, we have to follow up children who have quit school. This does not seem to be practical at all,” said another schoolteacher at Kadugodi, requesting anonymity.

No entry in places

Teachers also mentioned several apartment buildings which do not even allow them inside the entrance. Others who are being let in complained of “so much suspicion” about them that they were being asked not to use the elevators and forced to climb six or seven floors.

Female teachers said they had no security and were afraid of going alone to desolate places in the cluster. “Unless they visit migrant labour settlements and slums, they cannot find out about schoolchildren. They have begun by focusing on residential localities.

We hope the rest of the survey will look into the vulnerable areas,” said Gopi, a member of Sparsha Trust in the City.

Kathyayani Chamaraj, the executive director of CIVIC, an NGO, felt such surveys had become “mere rhetoric”.

“Surveys are done but no systemic change is ensured. What is the point in conducting one more survey for the same cause without implementing the findings?”


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