NEW DELHI: In a vindication of sorts for the Right to Education Act, the latest HRD ministry-mandated survey shows a 26 per cent drop in out-of-school children in the country since 2009.
According to the latest survey conducted by Indian Market Research Bureau for the ministry, out-of-school (OoS) children have declined to 60.6 lakh — 2.97 per cent of all children in the 6-14 age group — from 81.5 lakh in 2009. In the first survey of 2005, 1.34 crore children were out of school.
Interestingly, there were less girls (28.9 lakh) out of school than boys (31.6 lakh). In fact, girls have consistently done better than boys in all three surveys. A survey of OoS slum children was done for the first time and it their number was found to be 4.73 lakh.
The survey found a continuing drop in the number of OoS children among scheduled castes and Muslims. Among tribal OoS children, the drop was marginal — from 10.69 lakh in 2009 to 10.07 lakh in 2014.
In terms of social classes, the number of SC out-of-school (OoS) children have come down to 19.66 lakh from 23.08 lakh in 2009 and 31.04 lakh in 2005.
In the latest survey found there were 15.57 lakh Muslim OoS children, down from 18.75 lakh in 2009 and 22.53 lakh in 2005.
While states such as Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Delhi, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal witnessed a decline in the OoS children, in 13 states and Union Territories percentage of such children has increased since 2009.
These include Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.
What dampens the good work of RTE is that the decline in OoS disabled children has followed a different trajectory. In 2005, 5.82 lakh disabled children were out of school which went up to 9.88 lakh in 2009 and in the latest round has come down to 6 lakh.
Sources said it could be due to inclusion of more kinds of mental and physical disabilities in the list so that RTE becomes more inclusive. But there is a general acknowledgement that a lot needs to be done on this front.