Rise in school drop-outs worrying

Figures on the number of out-of-school children in Karnataka are reason for serious concern. According to a survey conducted by the state’s Department of Education, the number of out-of-school children in Karnataka rose from 14,000 in 2017-18 to 70,116 students in 2018-19. As worrying as the large number of out-of-school children in 2018-19 is the five-fold increase in their numbers in a span of a year. Bengaluru South tops the list with 10,233 out-of-school children, followed by Kalaburagi (5,752), Yadgir (5,741) Vijayapura (4,417) and Ballari (5,132) districts. The survey is reported to have been far more comprehensive than previous ones. For instance, it involved greater community participation at the ground level and covered children below the age of 16, unlike in previous years when only below-14 children were surveyed. While this may be a reason for the sharp increase in drop out figures, there are other factors at play which cannot be ignored. The study found migration and disinterest in studies as major reasons for children dropping out of schools. Other reasons cited by children surveyed include domestic work, distance to the school, ill-health of the child and parental disinterest in providing education for the girl child.

Migration is an important reason for children dropping out of schools across India. According to Unesco’s Global Education Monitoring Report 2019, around 80% of migrant children in seven major Indian cities did not have access to education near the work site. While some construction companies provide crèches for migrant construction labour, schools on the site are rare. Besides, children of inter-state migrant parents do not understand the local language and find it difficult to cope with studies in local government schools. Such children end up whiling away their time on the construction site. Around 40% of them end up working on the site and become victims of abuse and exploitation. Several states are implementing measures to address the problem of high drop-out rate among migrant labour children. The governments of Gujarat and Odisha, for instance, have set up boarding schools for children of seasonal migrants. However, such measures are aimed at retaining children in their home communities rather than supporting those who migrate along with their parents. Tamil Nadu has overcome this problem with its initiative to provide migrant children with text books in other languages.

The Right to Education Act makes it mandatory for local authorities to admit migrant children in schools. State governments are mandated with the responsibility of setting up schools for all children within a walking distance of a kilometre. The Karnataka government is violating the fundamental rights of migrant children by not providing them with access to education.

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Rise in school drop-outs worrying

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