Nagpur: About 50 lakh fewer children have taken admission in pre-primary and class 1 in the year 2020-21 academic session as compared to the previous year itself. The Union Ministry of Education on Wednesday evening released the annual UDISE Plus report (see box). It has been mentioned that “postponing school admission of young children during the pandemic” could also be a reason for the decrease in enrollment.
The enrollment of students at the pre-primary level has decreased by more than 29 lakhs, Whereas for Class I, the fall has been around 19 lakhs. A similar trend has been observed with the enrollment of Children with Special Needs (CWSN) in the academic session 2020-21. Enrollment for children with special needs category has dropped by about 3.56% to around 22 lakhs.
While the government was not held responsible for this dangerous epidemic at all, There was a noticeable change in government schools where education is absolutely free. The UDISE plus report also states that around 40 lakh students from aided and unaided schools have shifted to government schools during the year 2020-21. This was the year when this dangerous epidemic hit and the world economy was shocked, Due to which the job was lost and there was a lot of cut in salary. This was also the time when protests against high school fees had started all over the country.
Assisted school system
The report also shows that contrary to popular belief, Maharashtra lags behind unaided private schools in some states where fees are also charged. In fact, Maharashtra has the largest network of government aided schools in India. Where either fees are not charged at all or huge discounts are given.
Maharashtra’s vast network of aided schools is around 24,000, Whereas Tamil Nadu ranks second with just over 8,000 schools. This difference is also a testimony to the rise of the assisted school system in Maharashtra over the past four decades.
Also in aided schools, the state bears the salary and non-salary expenses while the infrastructure is owned and operated by a private institution (trust/society). The trade-off is that students are not charged some fees or even huge discount fees at all.
The Indian school education system is one of the largest in the world with over 1.5 million schools, nearly 97 lakh teachers, and also has around 265 million students from pre-primary to senior secondary levels from various socio-economic backgrounds.