THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even though the student enrolment saw a quantum leap in government and government-aided schools at the beginning of this academic year, with the number touching a high of 1.85 lakh, a latest government report reveals 5,680 schools are facing closure this year due to shortage of students. At the end of the previous academic year, 5,573 schools were functioning without the required number of students, i.e. an average of 15 in a class. All these schools have been termed ‘uneconomic’.
As per the statistics available with the government for the year 2017-18, as many as 2,564 government schools and 3,116 government-aided schools had student shortage. In the government sector, 1,859 LP schools, 453 UP schools and 252 high schools face shortage, while in aided sector 2,401 LP schools, 605 UP schools and 110 high schools failed to enrol the required number of students.
A recent study by the education department showed there were 13 teachers for every 30 students in uneconomic schools. The Right to Education (RTE) Act stipulates a Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) of 30 or less for schools with fewer than 200 enrolled students. Schools with higher enrolment should have a PTR of 40.
Education experts say the measures of the government including General Education Rejuvenation Mission should be strengthened to increase student enrolment in the coming academic years. “It’s a fact that many government and aided schools do not have the required number of students. There’s still a social stigma towards enrolling children in government schools.
“The government’s rejuvenation mission has been effective and it should take steps to boost the stimulus measures in the coming years rather than closing down the schools. Similarly, the government should gear up awareness campaigns to remove the social stigma,” said educationist J Prabhash. A Shahjahan, General Education Secretary told ‘Express’ the government has decided not to close down the uneconomic schools.
The department has taken steps including launching a campaign to attract students to the 5,680 schools facing closure from the coming academic year.According to experts, though there has been an increase in students enrolment in schools in recent years, it was mainly in schools with good infrastructure facilities.
The report clearly shows the infrastructure and quality of teaching are yet to be improved in many schools.