UP’s 10 lakh ‘missing’ kids hints at huge scam

NEW DELHI: It’s a mystery of sorts. In just one year, Uttar Pradesh’s enrolment in primary schools — class I to V — has fallen by 9.89 lakh children. In 2008-09, the figure was 2.49 crore that has come down to 2.39 crore in 2009-10 as per the data of District Information on School Education (DISE) certified by the UP government. On the other hand, enrolment in upper primary schools — class VI to VIII — has gone up by two lakh — from 74.15 lakh in 2008-09 to 76.15 lakh in 2009-10.But it is the case of the missing 9.89 lakh primary school children that has become a cause of concern. In June, when the DISE figures came, the discrepancy between last year and this year’s data was pointed out, but officially the UP government maintained that the data was correct. However, sources in the state government said the discrepancy raised several questions. One, if the data of 2009-10 is correct then what about the figure of 2008-09? In case the 2008-09 data is correct, what happened to the money spent on the children on mid-day meals, free textbooks and uniforms. Two, if primary enrolment has come down then have children gone out of school? “Such a discrepancy can have serious implications on Gross Enrolment Ratio,” one official said.

Ashok Ganguly, special project director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, UP, says, “We are going for digitisation of each and every child as per the orders of the Allahabad HC. We are tracking each and every student. A clearer picture will emerge later.” Ganguly says the issue of discrepancy needs to be looked at in depth. In this regard, he says, the state government has identified six districts, including Badaun, Jaunpur, Mau, Unnao and Muzaffarnagar, for random survey of enrolment.Educationist Vinod Raina, while stating that one will have to wait for the data, says such a discrepancy could be due to double admission. “In many states, children take admission in both private and government schools. It helps them get free textbook – TOI