Plenty of goodies in government schools, but enrolments still dip

Plenty of goodies in government schools, but enrolments still dip

Plenty of goodies in government schools, but enrolments still dip

State-run schools in Karnataka saw fewer enrolments in the current academic year than 2014-15, despite the fact that the government gives students free milk, midday meal, uniforms, textbooks and scholarship.

Admissions to lower primary classes in 2015-16 slumped by around 52,000 compared with the previous academic year.

In 2015-16, there were 26,83,364 enrolments in lower primary classes. The figure for 2014-15 stood at 27.35 lakh. (see table)

   Year             Class (1-5)            Class (1-8)            Class (1-10)                  
2014-2015      27.35 lakh           42.21 lakh              48.64 lakh
2015-2016      26.83 lakh           41.09 lakh              47.45 lakh

What explains this gradual decline at a time when private schools are recording increased admissions every year? V P Niranjan Aradhya, a fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, has some answers.
He said shortage of teachers and lack of basic facilities like proper classrooms were driving students away from government schools.

He disputed the government’s argument that a slower growth in population in Karnataka was behind the decline in enrolments at state-run schools. Private schools are constantly recording increased enrolments, he said.

According to Aradhya, out of 53,619 classrooms in lower primary schools, 16,540 are unusable. Out of 1,58,418 classrooms in higher primary schools, 49,500 are not suitable for use.

If this is the condition of government schools, how will admissions go up, he asked and urged the government to seriously look into the problems of the schools.

Ajay Seth, Principal Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education, agreed that admissions in government schools are declining but cited different reasons for it.

Admissions for poor children in private schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, migration of parents and a gradual decline in the population growth are decreasing the enrolments in government schools, he said.

The trend is reverse in Morarji Desai residential schools which are run by the Directorate of Minorities.

The schools run classes 6 to 10 and the medium of instruction is English. A teacher at a Morarji Desai residential school in Chikkamagaluru said parents were approaching the institution for admission for their wards.

This is because the quality of education in regular government schools is not up to the mark, the teacher said.

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