PRASAD JOSHI : Pune, Tue Oct 22 2013, 00:12 hrs
A child who remains absent for more than three months is considered out of school.
When it comes to district-wise data, Pune has maximum number of out-of-school children in the state, with more than 16,500 away from schools, an RTI query filed by The Indian Express has revealed.
As many as 31,268 lower primary (Classes I-V) students — including 13,133 girls — have been out of school, while 49,820 have not attended upper primary schooling (Class VI-VIII).
"It is difficult to keep a tab on the number of out-of-school children as it keeps fluctuating," said state director of education (primary) Mahaveer Mane. On why the number of out-of-school children in Maharashtra is huge despite RTE Act being in place, he said, "Due to the Act, the number has come down in the past few years. Earlier, it was more than two lakh," he said.
The state Directorate of Primary Education, while responding to the RTI application, also furnished district-wise proposal of special training to be given to out-of-school children in 2013-14.
A close look at district-wise data of out-of-school children in Maharashtra reveals that several big cities like Thane, Nashik and Aurangabad account for maximum number of such children. While the government is planning special training for out-of-school children, it failed to undertake such measures in the past three years, alleged activists.
Govt lying, actual figure is 10 lakh, claim activists<\b>
Taking strong objection to the official figure of out-of school children in Maharashtra, civil society members said the 2011 drive, which exposed bogus enrollment in several schools, has nailed government's lies on out-of-school children. Educational activists say the actual number of such children is 10 lakh.
More than 2,900 schools in Maharashtra were found to have inflated students enrollment to draw government funds during a surprise drive conducted in October 2011. "Most of the schools, at the behest of government, deliberately do not delete from records names of students who have left. While inflated enrollment of more than 20 lakh students was exposed, half of them were out-of-school children," RTE state representative Suryakant Kulkarni said.
He said every district of Maharashtra has out-of school children in the range of 10,000-15,000, with backward districts from Marathwada and Vidarbha region accounting for more.
Activists also criticised the government for relying heavily on schools and respective school management committees (SMCs) for tracing out-of school children and making them beneficiaries of RTE Act.