The Right to Education Act (RTE), which allows free education to students from lower income groups, aspirations of parents wanting private schooling for their children, and poor quality of education imparted in civic schools have collectively resulted in more than 50% dip in enrolment in municipal schools across Mumbai.
Statistics shared by Praja Foundation have revealed that enrolments to Class 1 in BMC schools have fallen drastically from 63,392 in 2008-09 to 32,218 in 2016-17.
“One of the reasons for this dip is lack of quality education in BMC schools, owing to which parents are willing to pay fees of a private school over free education at municipal schools,” said Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee, Praja Foundation. She added that status of BMC’s Mumbai Public Schools (English medium) is much better than the older BMC schools in terms of enrolment and dropout rate.
On Tuesday, the NGO released its annual report on municipal education in Mumbai. Other than low enrolment rate, this report also highlighted that the rate of dropout has fallen by more than 50% in the past one year.
“Last year, 15 out of 100 students were dropping out of BMC schools. But this year the number is eight dropouts per 100 students. The BMC has been doing a lot to curb dropouts but no one seems to be doing anything about the dipping enrolment,” said Milind Mhaske, project director, Praja Foundation.
Mahesh Palkar, BMC education officer, told HT that RTE as well as parents’ attitude towards municipal schools has resulted in a drop in children taking admissions at civic schools.
“We conducted seven rounds of school survey to find students who didn’t attend school for months and have managed to get them back. But with RTE in place, we can’t force parents to send their children to our schools,” he said.
The NGO interviewed 2,758 parents, of which most respondents complained about the poor quality education and lack of basic amenities at municipal schools as the primary reasons for them to shift the children to private schools.
“Of late, the BMC has been pushing for better accountability in their schools. But their approach is not the best. The BMC plans to fine teachers if students don’t fair well. However, they should focus on training teachers more. Instead of just blaming the teachers, other senior officials should also be made accountable,” added Mehta.
Nitin Wadhwani, founder and director, Citizen’s Association for Child Rights, said the problem seems to be with the preconceived image of BMC schools in parents’ minds.
“BMC schools are doing well in terms of infrastructure and implementation of latest technology. But they fail to provide basic training to their teachers, which ultimately shows in their results,” he said.
Wadhwani added that BMC needs to focus on spending funds in right places. “Only when parents see real change, will they trust the BMC schools again.”
Source: Hindustan Times