Despite schemes, number of children out of school rises

Srinagar: Despite several schemes, thousands of children in the 15-16 age group remain out of school in rural Jammu and Kashmir, a survey said.
The latest Annual Survey of Education Report said that in 2014, 11.4% of children in the 15-16 age group were not in school, meaning they either dropped out or had never enrolled. This figure is higher than 11.3% in 2013 and 11.1% in 2012.
At 0.3%, the number of girl dropouts is slightly higher than the boys.
The survey said the dropout rate of the students in the 6-14 age group has risen to 2.2% in 2014 from 1.8% in 2013. Similarly, it has increased from 3.9% to 4.2% in the 7-16 age group and from 2.9% to 3.6% in the 11-14 age group.
Fourteen districts in the state were surveyed for the latest report, covering many villages and as many as 343 schools.
The highest (3.8% each) number of out of school children in the 6-14 age group is from Budgam and Kargil, followed by 3.4% in Srinagar, Rajouri (3%), Baramulla (2.8%), Kathua (2.7%), Kupwara (2.6%), Doda and Poonch (1.8% each), Pulwama and Jammu (0.8% each) and Leh (0.6%).
In the past more than a decade, a number of schemes including Sarva Shiksha Abiyan (SSA) and Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) besides measures such as free text books, scholarships were introduced by the governments to reduce the dropout rate.
As per the last Economy Survey (2013-14), the schemes and measures were aimed at bringing down the dropout rate and that “too quite steeply in near future.”
The overall goals of the SSA, according to the Economic Survey, includes universal access and retention, bringing down of gender and social gaps in enrolment levels and enhancement of learning levels of all children.
In keeping with the constitutional provisions to raise the level of nutrition of children and enable them to develop healthy manners, the Economic Survey says MDMS was launched in 1995.
Interestingly, MDMS was expected to enhance enrolment, retention and attendance of children in schools and was extended to upper primary (Class 6 to 8) in 2008 in J&K.
Talking about MDMS, the ASER survey has recorded that 24.5% schools do not have kitchen shed for cooking mid-day meal.
On the day of visit by its team, the ASER survey says, only 74.7% schools served the meals to children.