MUMBAI: After a pilot survey in Nanded district in Maharashtra detected that schools may have inflated numbers of students to obtain government grants, the state government has detected that over 20.70 lakh (10.16 per cent of the 2.03 crore) students enrolled in schools were missing.
Officials suspect that many of these students might be bogus and exist only on paper. Incidentally, the number of such absentees is large in schools which are run on government grants, including the schools for the handicapped run by the Social Justice Department (27.02 pc) and the tribal ashramshalas (22.79 pc). The state government’s education budget is about `27,000 crore. A major chunk of this is being spent on salaries.
The state government had decided to verify the attendance records in schools to improve the quality of education and stop malpractices.
As a pilot project, the governemnt had undertaken a survey of registered, present and absent students in all primary, secondary and higher secondary schools in Nanded district in September 2011 which detected that the number of such missing students was huge. The government grants including those for the mid-day meal scheme and approval for the number of teachers depend on the numbers of students. Later, a state-wide survey was conducted which revealed that of the 2.03 crore students in 1,00,887 schools in Maharashtra, over 2.07 lakh (10.16 per cent) were absent. Nanded district topped the list with 17.71 per cent, followed by Solapur (16.92 per cent), Dhule (15.46 per cent), Yavatmal (14.20 per cent) and Parbhani (13.67 per cent). A committee under Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad has been set up to recommend the future course of action.
Maharashtra Education Department officials said though genuine students who were absent during the course of this survey could account for a certain number of these missing students, a large proportion was likely to consist of the “bogus” students.
555 schools for the handicapped saw 6,634 students (27.02 per cent) being absent.