Enrolment in the State Government elementary schools in the State has been declining gradually from 2008, as per the latest figures gathered by the Odisha State Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA).
OPEPA conducted a survey to gauge the progress and shortcomings of the schools under the School and Mass Education (S & ME) Department, ST and SC Development Department, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department. The survey took into account the academic sessions beginning from 2008-09 till 2012-13. According to its findings, there has been a gradual decrease in the enrolment of students from 56.93 lakh in 2008-09 to 53.95 lakh in 2012-13.
Currently, there are more than 57,600 Government schools and about 7,300 private aided and private unaided schools throughout the State. But even now, more than 12,588 Government schools do not have common toilets and more than 27,000 Government schools do not have girls’ toilet. In addition to this, about 2,346 schools do not have drinking water facilities. All these scenarios compound, resulting in the students refraining from attending Government schools, an OPEPA official added.
OPEPA officials said that there has been a gradual shift in the student enrolment from Government schools to private schools. Families are now increasingly capable of affording private school education. But on the other hand, the enrolment of ST students in the Government elementary schools witnessed a rise from 17.31 lakh in 2008-09 to 18.79 lakh in 2012-13.
But, the State Government is taking measures to check the declining trend by conducting massive awareness drives throughout the State. It has prioritised provisioning of quality education in all schools. Currently a State wide campaign is ongoing where all the ‘out of school’ students are being enrolled into the nearby schools.
About 14,000 qualified school teachers are being recruited by the S&ME Department in order to improve the education quality.
State Government has provided the schools mid day meals, uniform, teaching and learning materials to enhance a student’s learning experience, besides establishing seasonal hostels to retain the students of migrating families.
The drop out rate has drastically reduced from 2.83 lakh to only 37,000 in primary schools and 8.19 lakh to 2.36 lakh in upper primary schools.