Concerted policy on the cards to bring dropouts back to school

Focus will be on children who miss school due to migration

Concerted policy on the cards to bring dropouts back to school

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is in the process of drafting what some of its officials have described as the ‘Out of School Children (OOSC) policy’ to address the problem of school dropouts in Karnataka in a concerted manner.

A committee has been formed in this regard with the Commissioner for Public Instruction (CPI) as chairman and the State Project Director (SPD) of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) as general secretary. Some non-profit organisations working for children’s rights and education are also part of the committee.

“At the three sittings of the committee held so far, a number of suggestions were made on what the policy should contain. Inputs from Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Women and Child Development, Labour and other departments will be included in the draft policy. Still, a lot of information is needed and the process of collection and drafting is going on,” an official said.

A framework of all possible elements of the policy was discussed in these sittings, said another official who attended them. “The definition of such a policy, assigning roles and responsibilities to various departments and parties of the policy, and incorporating elements of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012, and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, were suggested,” according to the official.

A major portion of the draft policy will focus on bringing back children who drop out due to migration.

The OOSC survey, which was conducted by the SSA last year, showed that out of the total 1.7 lakh children who dropped out of school in 2013-14, as many as 29,491 children or 17.29 per cent were out of school due to migration.

Azim Premji Foundation is one of three non-profit organisations which are part of the process to draft the OOSC policy. Samruddhi Trust and the Concerned For Working Children (CWC), both working in the field of children’s rights, are the other two.

P Manjunath, State Head, Karnataka State Institute, Azim Premji Foundation, said: “The issue is not only putting children in school but guiding them and retaining them. This cannot be done by the government alone and requires the co-operation of different departments. Presently, ways are being discussed on how these departments can be brought together.”

According to him, they are also looking at health facilities, food and nutrition of children. “It is more of a comprehensive way of addressing the problem of out-of-school children and its continuous monitoring.”

Following a number of cases of physical and sexual abuse of children last year, the government had mooted the Child Safety Policy in co-ordination with various departments.
 A high-level committee under Additional Chief Secretary V Umesh was formed to look into various aspects of the policy. A year on, however, there is no word on when the policy would be finalised or implemented.

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