‘Chronic absenteeism’ in Delhi govt schools: Easier to return younger children, officials say

A quarter of children up to the age of 7 enrolled in government schools in Delhi have been identified as “chronic absentees” in the current academic year, after returning to school after a gap of two years.

The Indian Express had reported on Thursday that between April 1 and October 20, 3.48 lakh children (or 18% of all children enrolled in government schools in Delhi) have been absent for seven consecutive days or 20 out of 30 working days, which the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has identified as “chronic absenteeism”.

In absolute numbers, the number of children below 5 years and between 5-7 years constitutes a small fraction of this 3.48 lakh due to the much smaller number of these children enrolled in government schools in Delhi. However, they represent a quarter of the children in these age categories in these schools.

In the under-5 age category, 4,909 children were identified as “chronic absentees”, which represents 25% of the students in this age category in these centres. In the age category of 5 to 7 years, there are 21,604 children, representing 26% of the students in this age group in Delhi government schools.

The percentage is slightly lower in the 8 to 10-year-old age category: 28,630 children or 17% of students in this age category were identified as chronically absent. The number increases in categories 11-13 and 14-16 to 1,35,558 and 1,13,876 respectively. As most of the schools run by the Delhi government start from Class VI, these account for 19% and 16% of the total students in these respective age categories enrolled in these schools.

On the other hand, in its efforts to contact the parents of “chronically absent” children and get them back to school, the DCPCR has been more successful in establishing contact with families of younger children. They were able to establish contact with 34% of chronically absent children under the age of 5; 24% of those between 5-7 years old; 26% of those between 8-10 years old; 21% of those between 11-13 years old; 20% of those between 14 and 16 years old; and 18% of those over 17 years old.

In addition, a greater percentage of chronically absent children have “returned to school,” defined as having at least 33% monitored attendance over a 30-week period; 16% of these children in the under-5 category returned. which was reduced to 12%, 11%, 9%, 9%, 9% and 9% in the age categories 5-7, 8-10, 11-13, 14-16 and over 16, respectively.

“The percentage of students who return to school decreases progressively with the increase in the age of the student. It can be seen that at a younger age, a higher percentage of students’ families take their children’s education more seriously and are more receptive to the government’s recommendations to send them regularly to school. school,” DCPCR president Anurag Kundu said.

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