Friday, February 14, 2014

Problems dog survey of out of school children

Problems dog survey of out of school children

Shruthi H M, Bangalore, Nov 10, 2013:
File image for representational purpose. DH file graphic
Questions of credibility are once again being raised on the survey of Out Of School Children (OOSC) being carried out by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). The survey aims to clear the confusion about varied statistics on OOSC (between 6 and 16 years of age) in the State. 

But several problems may dog this entire door-to-door survey. To begin with, the duration of the survey is compressed into a mere five days (November 13 to 17). Second, many volunteers from child rights NGOs, who had taken part in the pilot survey last September, have pulled out this time.

Though the SSA aims to rope in the staff of other departments to complete the survey, public servants who took part in the previous exercise feel, going by past experience, the response would be lukewarm.

The exercise began on November 6 and till Friday, officials conducted the school survey to identify the number of dropouts. So far, a list of children who have left school with and without transfer certificates has been compiled. From November 13, they would visit every house to identify the number of dropouts.

For this purpose, clusters have been divided into two categories: vulnerable and non-vulnerable. In the pilot survey (conducted in Chikkaballapur and Channasandra (Bangalore) clusters), both the school and door-to-door survey were compressed into seven days. This time, however, each has been categorised separately.

According to SSA, out of five days marked for door-to-door survey, a night or two would be devoted to visiting bus stands, railway stations, hotels and the like.

An SSA official, who is monitoring the process in one of the zones in Bangalore, told Deccan Herald surveyors would not spend too much time in every house recording details of all children. “Only if children who have dropped out of school are found in the house will we collect the details. Each team will survey 50 houses per day.”

It may be noted that many teachers, who had been roped in for the pilot survey, were sceptical about the results. Reason? During the door-to-door survey, apartment buildings denied them entry and they did not feel safe going to isolated migrant labourer settlements.

This apart, several NGO representatives have said they would not take part in the latest survey as the government is yet to settle their dues from the pilot survey. Besides, the Rs-50 honorarium being offered to them would barely cover their travel expenditure, the volunteers say.

But SSA officials seem unconcerned. To substitute for NGO representatives, they hope to rope in anganwadi workers and Stree Shakti groups in rural areas.

Niranjan Aradhya, a fellow at the Centre for Child and Law, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, stressed the importance of including School Development Monitoring Committee (SDMC) and panchayat members — a component conspicuously missing from this survey.

“Teachers should be trained to understand the gravity of the problem. No experts, existing SDMC networks or panchayats are being made use of,” he pointed out.
 “Academic institutions keen on taking part in the survey should also be taken on board.” For this reason, he went on, the survey should be carried out by an independent organisation in co-ordination with the education department.

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