Shruthi H M Bangalore: Jan 23, 2014Underprivileged children staying in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) hostels in the State will soon have exclusive hostels with schools attached, dedicated to prepare them for integration into the mainstream.
At present, under the SSA ‘Residential Schools for Specific Category Students’ programme (meant for Classes 6 to 8), children are being accommodated in hostel rooms on the premises of existing government schools itself. From the academic year 2015-16, however, these children will have separate hostels with school on the premises.
The construction work, which began three months ago, will be completed by December 2014, according to SSA officials. Five such residential hostels are coming up at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore each.
This programme under SSA has been designed in tune with the Right to Education Act (RTE) and on a par with the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV). The provision for these schools was made under the RTE supplementary plan in 2010-11. The schools were operational from June 2011.
As per the provisions, residential schools for specific category are meant for children in hilly or forest regions, naxal areas or in any other place where they have no access to school or place of residence, apart from catering to orphan or street children.
The residential facility is provided for students from class 6 to class 8. Those children who are old enough to be in class 6, will be enrolled in these schools even if they have not had any prior schooling.
“In a majority of the cases, children would have joined school in class 1 and dropped out later. Even if they have not, they will be trained till they are able to catch up with their peers,” said an SSA official involved in the implementation of the programme.
Need for separate schools
Currently, 398 children are staying in five residential schools in Bangalore North, Dakshina Kannada, Dharwad, Mysore and Shimoga. The number has increased from 225 children in the academic year 2012-13. Primarily, SSA officials have found the need for individual attention for these students in preparing them to join mainstream education. Also, SSA is facing infrastructural challenges as the hostels are located on the school premises and the students are not able to access all the desired facilities. (Deccan Herald had published a report on September 4, 2013, about the poor state of affairs at Talaghattapura Hostel in Bangalore). Each of these hostels is permitted to shelter up to 100 students.
The new hostels will have two dormitories each for boys and girls. A residence for warden and place for indoor games, are also part of the feature.
Until now, there has been no support structure to students after Class 8 under this programme. Very likely, they would drop out of school, even though school principals are required to keep track of these students. In order to provide institutional support for their studies after class 8, SSA is also planning to approach officials of Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) to construct hostels for these students near government schools so that they could continue their study.
“ The problem is, SSA is limited to 6 to 14 years only. For age groups beyond that, the RMSA will have to intervene. We want to ensure that these children continue their schooling. We will request RMSA to provide for hostels,” the official added.