BANGALORE: While the HRD Ministry is pumping crores of rupees into the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), enrolments in government lower primary schools in the state is on a downward trend.
According to DISE reports, as on September 2011, the number of students enrolled in classes one to five stood at 30,41,382-a decrease of 1,29,857. Previously in 2010-11, the number stood at 31,71,239 for classes one to five.
The Economic Survey of Karnataka report for 2011-12 also takes note of the marginal decrease in enrolments into lower primary schools. The report cites demographic reasons, such as “Decline in the growth rate of the population and the subsequent decline in the school-going age group.”
However, officials in� the state government� believe that the trend may continue beyond demographic factors.
“The enrolment in government schools is a problem. There is a growing feeling that private schools are better than government schools. If necessary steps are not taken, then there will be further drops in enrolment,” said a senior government official on condition of anonymity.
According to the DISE reports, some of the regions that need special focus are Raichur, Bidar, Gadag and other north-east regions in the state. For instance, Raichur had 1,59,165 students enrolled in lower primary schools in 2010. In 2011, it dropped to 1,54,866. The trend is reflective in other regions as well.
Dr V P Niranjan Aradhya, a fellow with the Centre for Child and the Law at National Law School of India University (NLSIU), believes that the trend is only indicative of the failure of the flagship programme SSA.
“I can find decrease in enrolments since 2006-07. It only reflects the failure of the system. There is no doubt that children are moving towards private schools, thanks to the profit-oriented political economy that prevails. We must look at neighbourhood schools (like Kendriya Vidyalaya models) to ensure retention in schools,” he said.
Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri told Express that the government is ascertaining the reasons behind the drop in enrolments. “It is natural for enrolments to go down in rural regions, and attraction to private schools may be one of the reasons. I have asked for a detailed study in this regard,” he said.