Friday, February 14, 2014

School mapping not complete, RTE for all still a dream

School mapping not complete, RTE for all still a dream

In order to help children overcome social barriers and to ensure that every child goes to school, RTE had mandated that state governments or local authorities undertake school mapping. Authorities were told to ensure that there is a school within a 1-km radius of homes of children in classes I to V and a school in a 3-km radius of those in classes VI to VIII.
It had also directed local authorities to "identify all children, including those in remote areas, children with disabilities, children belonging to disadvantaged groups, children belonging to economically weaker sections" within a year of the rules coming into force.
Besides it was the responsibility of the local authority to maintain "a record of all children, in its jurisdiction through a household survey, from their birth till they attain the age of 14".
But two years after the rules came into force, none of these have been accomplished. According to data accessed under the Right to Information Act, the Education department did enlist an agency to digitally map schools in Delhi in 2012, but failed to put any mechanism in place to link children who had dropped out, migrants, disabled children and children falling in the 0-6 years old age group to these schools.
"We received a contract to only locate schools, and not to identify children, so that's exactly what we did. The entire procedure took a fortnight to complete," Pallavi Singhvi, who coordinated the entire exercise for the department through a firm called Geo Spatial Delhi Limited, said.
Education officials blame technical glitches in digital mapping of schools for not being able to identify children to ensure that they attend school.
"We are still evaluating gaps in the current process. Identifying children is a parallel process, one we are undertaking side by side," Director (Education) Amit Singla said.
But the Cluster Resource Centre Coordinators (CRCC), officials responsible for identifying children, say they are yet to start with the process.
However, they said they try to admit children who have dropped out into schools in their zone. They are yet to do anything to map children falling in the 0-6 years old group, or children who have never been to school.
Civic officials also admitted to the absence of a coherent plan. "We do not have a consolidated record in place, but we try and work with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan officials to enrol children," South corporation PRO Mukesh Yadav said.

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