Education is the right of every child. With the objective of identifying and mainstreaming out-of-school children, including the children affected by seasonal migration, ActionAid India and UNICEF launched Nai Pahal, a joint initiative covering 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh. The intervention, covering nearly 50,000 schools, aims to also activate education governance systems and sensitize communities on the importance of education. Nai Pahal also seeks to generate evidences to facilitate the development of a state-specific policy to address issues of children affected by seasonal migration, including addressing issues of child labour and child marriage in the state.
In order to support the identification and regular monitoring of out-of-school children, special bodies – with representation from the local administration, civil society and relevant committees – have been formed at the district as well as block-levels. Besides, more than 5,000 village-level volunteers have been identified and brought together to cover all 209 blocks of the intervention districts and facilitate the identification of out-of-school children. The volunteers also strongly engage with School Management Committees (SMCs), Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), community leaders, teachers and parents, to ensure desirable attendance levels of all children, besides doing block, district and state-level advocacy to strengthen public education.
The Nai Pahal initiative has so far been able to facilitate the identification of nearly 40,000 out-of-school children from 20 districts. In addition, through consistent advocacy with the State Elementary Education Department, we have been able to successfully develop a clear definition for out-of-school children in the state. Children who consistently remain out-of-school for 45 days without any prior information are to be considered out-of-school in the state. Besides, an amount of Rs. 5.7 crore has been released by the state government for carrying out special age-appropriate trainings for out-of-school children.
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