The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, mandates the appropriate Government to provide free and compulsory elementary education to every child of the age 6 to 14 years in a neighbourhood school.
The Department of School Education and Literacy has developed an online module for compiling the data of Out of School Children (OoSC) identified by each State/UT and their mapping with Special Training Centres (STC) on the PRABANDH Portal. The concerned State/UT validates the child wise information of the identified OoSC and STC uploaded by the concerned Block Resource Centre of the State for monitoring the progress of mainstreaming of OoSC, the government informed the parliament in its monsoon session recently.
Under Samagra Shiksha, financial assistance upto Rs 2000 per annum has been envisioned for supporting OoSC of age group of 16-19 years, belonging to socio economically disadvantaged groups, for completing their education through NIOS/SIOS, for accessing course materials and certification. Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided to States and UTs for undertaking various activities to reduce number of OoSC including opening and strengthening of new schools upto senior secondary level, construction of school buildings & additional classrooms, setting up, up-gradation and running of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, setting up of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Avasiya Vidyalayas, free uniforms to eligible children and free text books at elementary level, transport allowance and undertaking enrolment and retention drives.
Under National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme scholarship is awarded to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to arrest their drop out at class VIII and encourage them to continue the study at secondary stage
As per Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE+), the dropout rate of students of all categories of schools in Jammu and Kashmir from 2017-18 to 2020-21 has been 17.82, 16.68 and 3.69 respectively.
A UN report had also highlighted that with parental incomes under strain due to covid-19 pandemic, there could be an increase in drop-out rates.
The J&K administration must continue to carry out an extensive assessment of the learning loss and well-thought-out plans to bridge the learning gap, and implement various schemes in true spirit to ensure there are only a few or no dropouts.
Evidence has shown that continued engagement with educational activities reduces drop-outs in a statistically significant way. The administration must ensure that it continues to promote these activities.