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The Universal Elementary Education ( UEE ) Mission of the Department of Education has issued a new batch of guidelines for the running of Special Training Centres ( STCs ). Such centres are temporary – they are meant to run for a minimum time of three months and maximum of two years – and established to facilitate the mainstreaming of out – of – school children. The UEE Mission will fund such centres run by schools and also NGOs. The age – group covered is six to 18 years.

The guidelines, posted on 3rd December, 2012, Direct the school management committees of schools owned or managed by the Government or local authority shall identify out – of – school children and organize training for them. “The special training shall be based on specially designed Age Appropriate Learning Material,” say the guidelines and training will be provided either on the premises of the school or “in classes organized in safe residential facilities.” Training will take place during schools hours if space permits. If not, they can be organized after school. The kids will be trained for a total of five hours in a day – 8 am to 1 pm or 1 pm to 6 pm.

The mission has also put a cap on the maximum number of students per centre – 30 irrespective of whether the group is for primary, upper – primary or the “entire elementary level.” Each centre will receive ₹ 1.8 lakh per year for the whole group.

Teachers may be drawn from the existing staff of the school or specially appointed. The head of school may also choose to take help from an NGO. The centre has to run for a minimum period of three months, which may be extended to a maximum of two years provided the mission receives regular progress reports. Further, to ensure the mainstreaming is complete, the guidelines state categorically that “the child shall, upon induction into the age appropriate class after special training continue to receive special attention by the teacher to enable him / her to successfully integrate with the rest of the class, academically and emotionally.”

The STCs will be located in government – aided schools or those under municipal bodies and these will be responsible for conducting an enrollment drive. The schools have been directed to “conduct a comprehensive door – to – door survey in the catchment area / neighbourhood Kshetra to identify out of school children and will register them.”

The details of the children enrolled will have to be entered online and their unique IDs will be generated. The text also warns that officials will be carrying out “surprise checks” and encourages heads of schools and NGOs to adopt a “zero rejection policy while identifying, enrolling and mainstreaming the out of school children.”

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