Harmonizing the Definitions of Out Of School Children in India (OOSCI)

Harmonizing the Definitions of Out Of School Children in India (OOSCI)

The South Asia regional study in 2014, prepared as part of the Global Initiative on Out-of-School-Children (OOSCI) initiated by UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in 2010, states that South Asia is facing challenges with the high number of children being denied schooling. The numbers of out-of-school children (OOSC) in the region remain staggering despite efforts towards universal primary and basic education.

Moreover, discrepancies arise in the number and rate of out-of-school children when comparing estimates from household surveys and administrative records, and also between different household surveys. Triangulating estimates from both administrative data and multiple household surveys, therefore, becomes a crucial step to get a better indication of the extent of school exclusion. A critical use of multiple data sources is an important way for policy and decision-making to be more evidence-based, nuanced and effective.

Based on the objective outlined above, this UIS-commissioned study endeavoured to:

Critically analyse the data collection methodology and metadata, and calculate out-of-school rates for household and administrative data sources which have information on out-of school children conducted at the national level between 2005 to 2014; in particular, the analysis included

i) the questions used to determine school participation,

ii) the timing of the data collection in relation to the start of the school year (which varies among states).

iii) Identify the reasons behind the differences and similarities in the out-of-school children statistics calculated from surveys and administrative data sources,

iv) Document the different definitions of out-of-school children used by government agencies and data producers.

v) Recommend possible ways of harmonizing various definitions of out-of-school children, and related issues, including dropout, and school types, based on national and international best practices. In particular, the recommendations addressed the calculation of national out-of-school rates given the different starting ages and duration of primary and lower secondary education, and the different starting months of the academic years between states in India.

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