Saturday, January 25, 2014

In a first, BMC to survey children under 14

In a first, BMC to survey children under 14

AThe survey is expected to begin in July

Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is about to launch a massive survey of all children in the city. The exercise is similar to the national Aadhar project currently under way. With help from the state government and BMC's public health and information technology departments, the civic education department will endeavour to acquire information on the city's population below the age of 14. "This programme is aimed at addressing the problem of dropouts. We will survey all parts of the city and hope to finish in time for the coming academic year. We will rope in school teachers and counsel children to re-enroll in our schools," said additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani.
The first-of-its-kind survey, expected to begin in July, is estimated to cost over Rs 20 crore. Its task force comprises 13,564 teachers from municipal, aided and unaided schools. Three thousand community health volunteers (CHVs) from the public health department, responsible for records of every newborn's immunisation, will also be trained to carry out the door-to-door survey. The project proposal is awaiting approval from civic chief Sitaram Kunte.
According to NGO Praja Foundation's white paper on the "status of municipal education in Mumbai", the dropout rate has risen from four per cent in 2010-2011 to seven per cent in 2011-2012.
"We also plan to engage aanganwadis and balwadi programmes. Through the survey, we will find out the reasons for students dropping out and look for solutions. For example, if students cannot come to school because there is no mode of transport available nearby, we can introduce convenient bus routes," said a senior civic official.
To bring dropouts back into the mainstream, the corporation will allow the children to enter into a class of their age group. "We will provide additional coaching classes to raise their level of competence. A nine-year-old can then be enrolled in the standard III or IV instead of having to begin from scratch," said the official.
To prevent duplication, every filled survey form will have a specific code that once entered into the system saves the details of every child. "This is along the lines of Aadhaar because we are keen to get exact population figures," the official said.
The two-fold programme has three approaches depending on the age group. "For the first 15 days, information on all students and children will be collected. From July 15 to 31, we will track out-of-school students," said the official.
With this programme, the corporation would also like to develop a better understanding of Mumbai's demographics and build a database of handicapped children under 18. "We will get an idea of how many parents are working in the informal sector and how many children follow them. It will aid our database on the economically weaker sections and SC/ST population of the city," said the official.

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