Despite official orders, work of re-survey of out-of-school children has not been undertaken yet in many parts of Maharashtra. A memorandum related to it was submitted to the state education commissioner by a forum comprising 16 advocacy groups.

The forum demanded that desired efforts be initiated at the earliest on a sustained basis over a period of one year to create an authentic database of these children. Further, the forum also demanded that action against district-level education officials be taken for allegedly neglecting re-survey orders.

On July 4, the state government had carried out a daylong drive involving different departments to trace out-of-school children. The initiative, however, did not appeal to the advocacy groups, who raised serious doubts over the data compiled during the survey.

Following a stir by different advocacy groups, the state education commissioner on July 21, came out with a circular, paving way for re-survey of out-of-school children by July 31.

B M Rege, who heads the forum fighting for the rights of stone-quarry workers, alleged that the re-survey has not been initiated in a single district in Maharashtra, so far.

“After seeking information from different districts of the state, we realised that the order of re-survey was to silence the advocacy groups. The education department should issue fresh orders. The survey must be a year-long drive to ensure that the real picture emerges,” he said.

Rege demanded concerted efforts to reach out to out-of-school children coming from migrant labouring communities such as sugarcane harvesters and brick kiln workers.

Educational activist Heramb Kulkarni demanded that action against education department officials, who failed to act in accordance with the orders of re-survey of out-of-school children, be initiated. “The re-survey remaining a non-starter implies the casual attitude education department officials have towards such issues. We demand disciplinary action against such errant officials,” he said.

The July 4 survey had reported around 48,000 out-of-school children. Advocacy groups, however, refused to accept the data generated from the daylong survey.

“As per our estimates, Maharashtra has at least around 9 lakh out-of-school children. The figure of 48,000 is misleading and could spell doom for these children. A year-long survey would help authorities to reach out to the target children,” Kulkarni said.

Dagadkhan Kamgar Parishad, System Correcting Movement (SYSCOM), Shantiban, Lokayat, Yuvak Kranti Dal and Aarogya Sena along with different social groups submitted the memorandum.

These groups have warned of state-level agitation if re-survey of out-of-school children is not carried out in a ‘proper manner’.

When contacted, state education commissioner Purushottam Bhapkar said that state education minister Vinod Tawde has declared that search of out-of-school children would go on over a period of at least the next one year. “We will have a detailed talk with the minister and education department secretary shortly to release further official orders regarding the survey,” he said.