what could've happened in 5 years to bring down the number of children out of school by half? the ruling classes chant a three word mantra as an answer: sarva shiksha abhiyan.
could ssa really have worked the miracle of bringing down out-of-school kids by nearly half, just a couple of years after its launch? that's what an economic times article (dated november, 2006) scanned and offered as success story on the ssa website says: Out-of-school-kids nearly halve (by urmi a. goswami). let me quote a couple of lines from the article:
The number of out-of-school children in the age group of 6-14 is down from 1.34 crore in 2005 to 70.56 lakh in the current year. With this the national average of out-of-school children is down from 6.94% to 3.59% in the current year. There are some 19.63 crore children between the age group of 6 to 14 years. Over the last four years, since the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was launched, the number of out-of-school children has been gradually reducing from 3.23 crore in 2001 to 70.56 lakh in march 2006.because the ssa has proudly pasted this badly scanned news story on its website, it obviously approves of those figures. notice the difference in figures quoted by the first government agency (NCPCR) and the second (SSA)?
*out-of-school kids, according to ncpcr, were 8.71 crore in 2001.
*out-of-school kids, according to the article endorsed by the ssa, were 3.23 crore in 2001.
*out-of-school kids, according to ncpcr, were 4.32 crore (estimated) in 2006.
*out-of-school kids, according to the article endorsed by the ssa, were 70.56 lakh in 2006.
they don't seem to agree, do they? how about these figures?
*total number of kids between the ages 5-14 in india, according to ncpcr, were 24.17 crore in 2006 (estimated).
*total number of kids between the ages 6-14 in india, according to the article endorsed by the ssa, were 19.63 crore.
the ssa seems to have not only nearly halved the number of out-of-school kids in india it seems to have reduced their total population too by nearly one-fifth!
except for the census figures of 2001 on the number of children in india, i think all the other figures are wide off the mark. the ncpcr figures seem to be slightly closer to the truth. i think the number of out-of-school kids is definitely more than the 4.32 crore estimated by the ncpcr. most of those estimates follow the enrollment figures and the discrepancy between enrollment and attendance figures as estimated by other researchers is significantly high. according to Shelley Seale (The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India), the number of child labourers (i won't call them out-of-school kids because i don't think they're having fun out of school, even if the goi thinks otherwise) in india would be 100 million. and i agree with that figure.
the ssa is like the village deities of rural india or the godmen of the cities: they work magic when you're not looking, or they work magic when you're not ready to look (because you're too desperate). like many of those believers, the sainaths of india, you'll notice, also keep their eyes closed, mostly.
update: forgot to add- also on the ssa website, a report of a survey (conducted in 2005) which agrees with the economic times article on the figures.