`Provisional statistics of Saturday’s survey con ducted by the state education department shows that Mumbai has 18,625 outof-school children, the highest in the eight divisions in Maharashtra.The Mumbai figures do not include children in areas falling in the Vasai municipal corporation limits.

The reports said 46,713 children across the state were reported as out-ofschool but education department officials said reports from some places in the state were yet to be compiled.Nashik has the second highest number of 10,122, followed by Pune with 6,123 children. Educationists and NGOs in Pune, however, alleged that the department under-reported figures.

The RTE Act, 2009, mandates that children aged 6-14 should be enrolled in schools, show regular attendance and get formal education. The state’s survey was prompted by this mandate and the need to find out the actual number of out-of-school children.

Praveen Mahajan, subject expert on state migrants, told TOI, “Last year, my NGO was part of a similar exercise by the Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training. It found that 80,000 children in the state were not in mainstream education during 2013-14. When a council appointed by the state government has done a survey barely a year back, which gives a fair idea of the number of children not in mainstream education, why was a similar exercise attempted all over again on July 4?“ Mahajan said the state government was unclear about the action it would take now. “The government should strategize and develop a system to ensure that no child remains out-of-school.After last year’s survey , the state government did not act. No measures were taken to bring out-of-school students into mainstream education,“ Mahajan said.

Two experts on the stateappointed committee set up to suggest ways to bring the children into the education Pic for representational purposes only mainstream resigned from their posts earlier this year in protest against the government’s failure to act on their report recommending measures to tackle the issue.

Educationist Herambh Kulkarni said, “There are 7-8 lakh migrant children in the state as per the previous survey . The July 4 survey recorded only around 1,000 migrant children who are out-of-school in each district. The survey lacked quality and was a futile exercise.“ A day after the state government carried out asurvey where madrassa students in the 6-14 age group were marked “out-of-school“ children, city madrassas have decided to launch a movement against what they call the state’s interference in their affairs. Several organizations are backing madrassas in their efforts to stay “independent.“

“The government is trying to dilute the provision in the RTE Act which exempts madrassas and vedik pathshalas. If our students are considered out-of-school children, madrassas will either cease to exist or be forced to adopt the state-approved curriculum. We have called a meeting of madrassas on July 23 to decide the future course of action,“ said Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi of All India Milli Council.He slammed the survey as it was done in Ramzan when madrassas are closed.

Rabta-e-Madaris, an association of over 150 madrassas in Mumbai and Thane, is leading the agitation and is backed by leading Muslim organizationJamiatul Ulema-e-Hind. “We will be forced to launch an agitation across the state if meddling in the madrassas is not stopped,“ warned Maulana Nadeem Siddiqui, president, Jamiatul Ulemae-Hind (Maharashtra).

“Madrassas cater to some basic needs of Muslims, like they produce maulvis, imams and Islamic scholars. If parents stop sending their children to madrassas, where will these preachers and imams come from?“ asked Pervez Lakdawala, city president, Indian Union Muslim League.

“This government seems adamant on changing the very purpose for which madrassas are established.Feelers are being sent to madrassas to join the movement, which will begin on July 23 after Ramzan is over,“ said Maulana Qari Saadiq, who heads Rabta-eMadaris.