Local governments cause delay in data collection of out-of-school children


The Kathmandu Post

Study aims to find out reasons for not enrolling children in schools 

- BINOD GHIMIRE, KATHMANDU : The government’s plan to conduct an intensive survey on out-of-school children targeted at finding its reasons has been delayed following reluctance from the local level to dispatch the records to the centre. With school education constitutionally coming under the jurisdiction of the local governments, there has been problems in coordination between the two tiers of government.

The Centre for Education and Human Resource Development under the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on April 24 had asked all public schools across the country to carry out the survey in collaboration with their respective municipalities or rural municipalities, and keep the record at the local level and send a copy to the federal centre. As it did not get the record 
from schools in the majority of the local bodies within the mid-May deadline, the centre on Friday issued another letter, extending the deadline until mid-June. 

The survey is aimed at finding detailed information about out-of-school children from playgroup age (3-4 years) to school-going age (5 to 16 years). The study will help dig economic condition of the children’s families, reasons why they have not been enrolled in schools and whether or not they have received the poverty identity card issued by the government. The survey is planned at a time when there are growing concerns that the mere ritualistic enrolment campaigns are not enough to bring out-of-school children to the education system.

Explaining about the reason for the survey Babu Ram Poudel, director general at the centre, had told that it would find out specific reasons for the poor enrolment while the government would start different support schemes. Based on the problems the children are facing, the schemes will be developed and employed to ensure no child is left out, according to Poudel. 

Last year, the government had launched an enrolment campaign with a plan to ensure all the children are in the school system from this academic session that started last month. The plan, however, has been postponed by at least a year as the centre is yet to find the exact data of such students. The government record showed around 345,000 students from primary age group were in the school system. It does not have the data of entire children of school-going age (below 16) who are out of the school.

“In the lack of our (centre’s) mechanism, we have to rely on local government,” Shankar Thapa, deputy director at the centre, told the Post. “A technical problem in our software too is partially responsible for the delay.” 

For long education experts have voiced that physically challenged children and children from extremely marginalised and poor communities are left out of the school system and that the government needs to come up with a special arrangements for them. The survey, according to Poudel, will be crucial in developing education policies targeting children, especially from extremely marginalised communities.