The annual survey of out-of-school children has begun in the city’s southern suburbs.
The survey, conducted by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) officials, is part of a State-wide initiative to map a census of children aged between 5 and 14 who have never been enrolled in school, those who have been denied any kind of formal education, and those who have dropped out of school.
The census is aimed at ensuring that these children are ultimately enrolled in schools and given a chance to complete their education.
The ultimate objective is to ensure that no child was deprived of school education.
SSA officials of the St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union launched the survey across the southern suburbs, which include several village panchayats that were merged with the Chennai Corporation two years ago.
Every Panchayat Union is divided into rural and urban wings of the SSA, with Panchayat Union schools coming under the rural wing and schools run by municipalities coming under the urban wing.
Last week, an intensive door-to-door survey was launched at the slum board tenements in Kannagi Nagar, Thoraipakkam.
SSA officials said the survey in Kannagi Nagar alone would be a difficult and time-consuming exercise, as their target was to cover about 15,000 tenements.
A similar survey conducted last summer found that there were 300 children who were out of schools in rural pockets across the locality and an almost equal number in urban areas.
All the identified children were subsequently enrolled at their nearest primary and middle schools — government, aided or private, officials said.
While the survey will only take about 10 days to complete and is held at the close of every academic year, school teachers, principals and SSA staff including block resource teacher educators, monitor details of the young children in the elementary education register maintained in each government-run primary school.
These records are compiled using information from the children’s centre of Integrated Child Development Services located near every primary school. Once the child attains the age of five, the staff ensure that the child is enrolled at a nearby school.
The survey is expected be completed towards the end of this month.
Officials said the number of children who are out of school is centred across the three clusters of Thoraipakkam, Kaarapakkam and Sholinganallur, all located along Rajiv Gandhi Salai, due to the concentration of slum board tenements in Kannagi Nagar and in Semmancheri.
Officials however, admitted that the survey was generally not a perfect record of every out-of-school child, and that if others were identified even later during the year, they would still be enrolled in schools
The active role and cooperation of parents as well as members of the village education committee of each school comprising elected representatives, was vital to ensuring that all children were enrolled in schools and completed their education, officials added.