17 May 2016 - 8:00pm
By Afroz Alam Sahil
New Delhi: A reply to a questioned asked in the Rajya Sabha has brought forth alarming statistics in terms of education in India: despite the Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, about 60.64 lakh children remain out of school across the country.
In response to a question asked by KK Ragesh, Member of Parliament from CPI, Minister for Human Resources Smriti Irani replied that of the 60 lakh children between the age of 6 and 13 who were out of school, most belonged to marginalised communities like Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims.
A detailed analysis of the numbers presented by Irani shows that the total number of children out of school from these three communities was nearly three times higher than that of the other communities. In other words, 75% of the children out of school are from Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim communities.
If one were to split the numbers in each category, of the total of 60 lakh, 32.4% children belong to the Schedule Caste while 25.7% children are from the Muslim community. The corresponding number for Schedule Tribes stands at 16.6%.
However, these numbers should not come as much of a surprise. In 2014, an organisation called IMRB, in a survey, had shown that the most number of children out of school are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In UP, the total number of children outside school stands at about 16.12 lakh, of which 5.6 lakh children belong to the Schedule Castes, 5.57 lakh belong to the Muslim community while 1.08 lakh children are from the Schedule Tribes. Similarly, in Bihar, the number of children outside school stands at 11.69 lakh, of which 5.24 lakh children belong to the Schedule Caste Community, 2.46 children are Muslim and about 31,000 children are from the Schedule Tribes.
Goa, on the other hand, stands at the other end of the spectrum with no children in the age group of 6-13 outside school. Goa is followed by Lakshwadeep and Puducherry, with 267 and 285 children out of school respectively.
In Dadra and Nagar Haveli, there are 745 children out of school with 172 of these students belonging to the Schedule Castes.
The only silver lining is that the Ministry of Human Resources has taken an initiative to calculate the total number of children outside school and take steps to address the issue. Towards this end, a meeting was organised between National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the MHRD which included members of National Advisory Board and members of Education ministries of all the state and Union Territories.