The Times of India

Isha Jain, Lucknow, Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Private schools gain students at expense of govt ones

Yogita Rao, TNN Nov 4, 2013, 04.52AM IST

MUMBAI: Around 4.1 lakh students were added to the enrollment figures at private unaided schools in the state in 2012-13. In the same period, schools run by government/local bodies and even private-aided ones saw a dip in enrollment by 2.6 lakh and 1.7 lakh respectively.

The reducing head count in government and aided schools shows the unwillingness of parents to compromise on their children's education and also their ability to afford higher fees.

Data compiled by the unified District Information System for Education (DISE) reveals that around 68.6 lakh students were enrolled in elementary classes in Maharashtra's schools in 2011-12, when the corresponding numbers in the last academic year (2012-13) plunged to 66 lakh. Similarly, the enrolments in private aided schools also dipped from 65 lakh in 2011-12 to 63.3 lakh in 2012-13.

The number of students enrolled in private unaided schools in the state during the same period, however, increased from 28.3 lakh to 32.4 lakh.

Experts believe the trend could only be attributed to the large numbers of students shifting to private and unaided schools. "Of the government and local bodies' schools, it is the Marathi and Gujarati-medium ones which are seeing a decline in enrolment. Many are even shutting down. Parents do not wish to send their children to these schools as they believe that their children's future will not be secure after studying in regional-medium schools," said educationist JM Abhyankar.

There is also a belief that only private and unaided English-medium schools offer good quality education, which is not true in many cases, he added. "Parents also believe that schools charging more money will offer quality education," said the former state project director for Sarva Shikshan Abhiyan.

Basanti Roy, former secretary of the Mumbai divisional board office for secondary and higher secondary education, attributes the shift to the quality of education offered in private and unaided schools and also to the affordability of parents. "Even those parents who are not economically well off, aspire to send their children to private schools. They believe their children should get the best of the education. Saving for the future is not their only priority now," said Roy.

She added that accessibility to private schools also has increased, even in rural areas. "There are private schools who are now offering bus services for students' convenience in remote areas," she added.

The state's school education director, Sarjerao Jadhav, refused to comment on the dip in numbers in government and local bodies' schools, saying he has not seen the data. But he claimed there could be discrepancies as some schools do not fill the data properly.

While parents' preference for private unaided schools is one of the major reasons behind the increase in enrolment figures in these schools, SC Kedia, honorary secretary of the Unaided School's Forum, believed implementation of the Right to Education Act could have shifted some students from aided schools to unaided ones.

"Under the Act, free and compulsory primary education should be made available to students. There is a reservation of 25% for children from the economically and socially weaker sections of the society, which could be one of the reasons for the shift," said Kedia.



The Times Of India, 04 Nov, 2013