Sep 30th 2015 : The Times of India (Minati Singha, TNN)  

Private schools steal a march over government ones



BHUBANESWAR: It's official. More parents are sending their children to private schools in the state.

The enrolment of students in government schools has fallen by around 1.30 lakh in 2014-15 compared to the previous year. On the other hand, enrolment in private schools has gone up by 75,000, at a growth rate of 18 per cent. This was revealed by the Elementary Education Trends report 2014-15 put together by the District Information System for Education (DISE).

"We have been organizing enrolment camps every year in the beginning of the session. Awareness campaigns in interior areas are held for sending children to schools. The reason for fall in enrolment varies from region to region," said project director OPEPA M K Mallick.

According to the report, a total of 35.65 lakh students enrolled in government schools in 2014-15 while the number was 3.69 lakh in 2013-14. The total number of students enrolled in 2012-13 was 38.1 lakh and 39.1 lakh in 2011-12. Again while 164 new government primary schools opened in the state, the number of new private schools opened was 384 in the past year.

"Enrollment numbers in government schools has been falling over the years because parents seem to have lost faith in state- run schools. The quality of education, teaching environment and quality of infrastructure has fallen drastically. Whatever the government is spending is on pen and paper only," said Right to Education campaigner Anil Pradhan.

The enrolment in English medium schools has been on a rise in the state. A total 2 lakh students took admission in English medium schools in 2014-15 while the number was 1.45 lakh in the previous academic session.

"The education system has become such that people are believe their children can excel only they study in English medium private schools. The government has to implement a uniform system for all or the disparity will increase further," said convener of All India Democratic Students' Organization (AIDSO) Subas Nayak.

Despite spending Rs 23,193.60 crore on elementary education in the state during 2009-14, the quality of education remained poor mainly due to deficient planning, inadequate infrastructure, non-availability of teachers and poor implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the report revealed.

Only 12.1 per cent upper primary schools have Computer Aided Learning Laboratories and 29.6 per cent schools have playgrounds, 5.6 per cent schools provide mid-day meals but these are not prepared on the school premises, 27.9 per cent schools have hand wash facility near toilets, while 10.6 per cent of the schools have electricity and computers.