Not a single student took admission in 476 Government lower primary schools and 95 upper primary schools in Assam in 2017, with parents increasingly rejecting the Government education system in the State.
A report appearing in the The Telegraph stated that this was revealed in the minutes of the project approval board meeting on Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan between the Assam Government and the Centre in May this year. These details were made available last week.
The report further stated that according to the minutes: “476 primary schools and 95 upper primary schools have zero enrolment.” A senior official of the Sarba Siksha Abhiyan, Assam, said that the figure reflected last year’s enrolment.
The official attributed decreasing population, increasing number of good private schools and parents increasingly preferring English-medium schools for their children as the causes of dwindling enrolment in Government schools which are mostly vernacular-medium ones. He said “area-specific population decline and preference for one child by more and more parents” had attributed to zero enrolment.
“Most of the schools with zero enrolment are in Upper Assam and in urban areas. But in the char areas, mostly in Lower Assam, many schools are overcrowded,” he said.
There are nearly 48,000 Government lower and upper primary schools in Assam and around 5,000 private schools in the State. The dwindling enrolment in Government schools has forced the State Education Department to take drastic measures like school amalgamation. So far 6,000 schools having less than 15 students have been amalgamated with nearby schools. Schools with zero enrolment are amalgamated with nearby schools. The teachers are transferred either to the amalgamated school or other schools.
To attract students, the Education Department has opened 14 model English-medium schools. “These schools are a hit. Each of them has more than 600 students,” said the official. The minutes also said that the Education Department has 27,000 “excess teachers”. Despite this, 24.97 per cent lower primary schools and 22.73 per cent upper primary schools are running with adverse pupil-teacher ratio against the ideal ratio of 1:30 for lower primary schools and 1:35 in upper primary schools.