Out of School Children (OoSC):

Definition: A child 6-14 years of age will be considered out of school if he/she has never been enrolled in an elementary school or if after enrolment has been absent from school without prior intimation for reasons of absence for a period of 45 days. Generally speaking, OoSC is Never Enrolled + Dropouts.
It is a matter of fact that children who still remain out of school fall in the “hardest to reach” or “most vulnerable” categories. While rapid increase in enrolment and attendance has occurred among children from poor households, the poor localities still have OoSC who are left out of system. Within local communities there are pockets of exclusion from schools, with high presence of SC, ST, street children, orphan/homeless children, migrant children, denotified/primitive tribal groups etc. Gender is a cross- cutting category which overlaps other disadvantages. While the “never enrolled” children may be increasingly integrated within the system over the next few years, the issue of dropouts will need sustained mechanism to address it.

Enrolling Out of School Children in Special Training Centres – a way forward towards education: The Special Training Programme
whereby the children admitted to the Special Training Centres (Residential/Non-Residential) is enrolled in age appropriate classes, and then offered a special course and helped to bridge their learning gaps through use of accelerated learning techniques, in alignment with the spirit of the Right to Education Act.
Where a child of above six years of age has not been admitted to any school or though admitted, could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age.
Provided that where a child is directly admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age, then, he or she shall, in order to be on par with others, have a right to receive special training, in such a manner, and within such time limits, as may be prescribed.
Provided further that a child so admitted to elementary educations shall be entitled to free education till completion of elementary education even after fourteen years.
Article 4, Right to Education Act

Background Scenario: The Government of India’s Right to Education Act has been instrumental in the reduction of the number of Out of School Children (OoSC) aged 6 to 14 years from 13.46 million in 2006 to six million in 2014 (Source: RI-IMRB Survey, 2009 and 2014).
It is imperative to mention that Jammu & Kashmir had an estimated 27500 OoSC according to the TALAASH survey conducted by the erstwhile Directorate of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan during the year 2016-17. TALAASH Survey is a door to door survey conducted to identify the number of OoSC based on the specific format and credentials. Needless to say that OoSC once identified are enrolled in Special Training Centre (STC) for bridge course remedial teaching (level I, II or III) and are accordingly mainstreamed in the age appropriate classes after completing the bridge course. The learning ability/capacity of the child shall properly be assessed by the teacher/headmaster concerned before admitting the child in the formal education.
Moreover, based on the specific age group and bridge course level the child is enrolled, following criteria is followed to mainstream the child in formal education.
S.No Age Band (in years) Bridge Course or Special Training Age appropriate class
1 6-7 Level I (for 3 to 6 months) I,II
2 8,9,10 Level I for (3 to 6 months or Level II for 6 to 9 months) III,IV,V
3 11-14 Level III for 12 months, this may continue for 02 years if needed after assessment VI,VII,VIII
Role of Samagra Shiksha: Every year Directorate of Samagra Shiksha, J&K puts the issue of tracking, identifying, enrolling and mainstreaming on priority and has been constantly making efforts to reduce the number of Out of School Children in UT of J&K with special focus on migrant & tribal children, minority communities, children with special needs and the most unprivileged. Also, Samagra Shiksha in collaboration with the Directorates of Education of Jammu/Kashmir, National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and with some NGOs like UNICEF, Humana People to People, Vikramshila etc tremendous progress has been made over the years. As a result, the number of OoSC has been consistently reduced during the recent years.
Future Strategy: Going forward and to address the issues like tracking and identifying the OoSC and to find out the exact number of different categories of these children, Directorate of Samagra Shiksha, J&K intends to initiate a comprehensive programme to address this issue in line with the directives of the Ministry of Education viz-a-viz:
1. Since the TALAASH survey was conducted during the year 2016-17 and there is a need for fresh door-to-door survey (TALAASH Survey) to prepare a database of age specific school going children as well as OoSC;
2. Enumerate and keep track of OoSC in a timely & quality manner through intensive data analysis - monitoring & mainstreaming them;
3. Reduce the number of OoSC through timely enrolment, regular attendance and flexible learning for elementary aged children;
Moreover, to facilitate/improve these mapping exercises and ensure timely action is taken to follow up on Out of School Children (OoSC), Directorate of Samagra Shiksha, J&K in collaboration with UNICEF has commissioned the development of the digital application ‘TALAASH’ to collect data in household surveys to map OoSC and develop a dashboard for easy access to reports based on the collected data for J&K.