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Education for 6,000 `out of school' children

By Vidyashree Amaresh

BANGALORE, DEC. 16. About 6,000 "out of school" children have been brought under the 338 Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) Centres in 18 districts in the State. The scheme aims at providing education to street children, child labourers and children who have migrated from other places.

The Joint Director of Sarva Siksha Abhyan (SSA), M. Chandrashekarayya, told The Hindu that the scheme will provide elementary education for children in the age group of six to 14 years.

Bridge courses

The EGS will target enrolment of children in the six-to-eight age group in regular schools.

Motivational camps or bridge courses will be conducted if necessary. Efforts will be made to admit older children (those in the 9-11 age group) to schools through appropriate interventions such as bridge courses and residential camps.

Under the SSA, every district in the State will prepare a District Elementary Education Plan (DEEP), which will include interventions for school improvement, incentives for children, recruitment of teachers and quality improvement in regular schools.

Flexible strategies

The EGS supports flexible strategies including schools in places where there are no schools; seasonal hostels or condensed courses for migrating children; bridge courses, residential camps and centres for street and slum children; remedial coaching for children enrolled in formal schools; and short-duration summer camps.

Under the scheme, EGS centres at the primary level will be set up in areas where no school exists within a radius of 1 km. In remote areas, it is viable to run EGS schools even if only 10 children are enrolled.

A second category of interventions that will be given priority are bridge courses and back-to-school centres or camps that aim at admitting school dropouts to regular schools.

Funds

Based on the demand from the community, the State will set up EGS schools within a reasonable period.

"The funds approved will include Rs. 845 for each child a year at the primary level and Rs. 1,200 at the upper primary level. It is expected that these districts will be able to undertake micro-planning exercises and prepare comprehensive plans for `out of school' children," he pointed out.

Quality improvement

Quality education is a cornerstone of the scheme. EGS centres, which will function for at least four hours each day, will help improve quality. The one-month training to education volunteers, two-day review and planning meetings every month, and regular academic support to the volunteers will also contribute to efforts to improve quality.

Besides teaching material, midday meals will also be supplied. Temporary sheds for setting up EGS centres have been built on donations. The centres will be upgraded to formal schools if there are enough students, Mr. Chandrashekarayya said.

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