The special training programme (STP) under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) seems to have failed to achieve its desired results as only 26 per cent of 61,243 dropouts and out-of-school children were absorbed into the mainstream schools in the state this year.
Of the 61,243 children in the age group of 6 to 14 years, who were imparted alternate education under STP across the state in 2011-12 to mainstream them, only 16,448 joined regular schools at the end of the year.
Despite a budget of Rs 59.77 crore for this project, 65 per cent of which is granted by the Centre, the state Education Department could not cross the mark of 26 per cent.
STP, or the Alternative Innovative Education (AIE), has assumed more significance with the implementation of the Right to Education Act. It is considered as the base in order to ensure every child is enrolled in regular schools.
"One of the main reasons (behind the low enrollment) is migrant population, which makes it difficult to keep a track of out-of-school and dropouts. Though measures are being taken to ensure that maximum children are mainstreamed at the end of the programme, this is a continuing process," said SSA state project director Manoj Aggarwal.
Last year, of the 80,028 children covered under STP across the state, only 24,670 (approximately 30 per cent) were mainstreamed.
This suggests that not only the dismal percentage of mainstreaming these students is a setback to the education department but even the decline in its percentage is a cause of concern.
Aggarwal attributed this to shortfall in the budget sanctioned by the Centre and the demand raised by the department. "This year, the state was not sanctioned the amount that was sought. Against the estimate of Rs 6,500 crore for education in the state, with emphasis on the implementation of RTE, only Rs 3,369 crore was sanctioned," he said.
With a large number of children not attending formal school in the state due to various socio-economic reasons, alternative teaching centers were opened to provide access to primary education to children from deprived sections living in remote and small habitations.
Special training programme
Targets dropouts and out-of-school children in the age group of 6 to14 years
Offers full-time community schools at remote and small habitations
Has specific strategies for child labourers, street children, adolescent girls, girls belonging to certain backward communities, children of migrant families