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A student in a government school classroom in Manipur

Enrolment of Students in Government Schools Declines Contrary to Tall Claims by Manipur Government

While Manipur Government claims that enrolment in government schools has increased ASER Report (Rural) 2021 says enrolment in government schools in Manipur has declined.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Manipur government claims that the number of students enrolled in government schools has increased due to various programmes taken up during the present state government to improve the government schools.

It may be recalled that Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on February 12, 2020 said that there has been a sharp increase in the number of students enrolled in government schools under the ‘School Fagathansi Mission’.

The ‘School Fagathansi Mission’ is an ambitious scheme launched by the Manipur government on January 18, 2019 with the objective to improve government schools by developing modern infrastructure and deputing adequate manpower to enhance enrolment.

Chief Minister Biren stated that adequate funds for the mission had been included in the state budget. A sum of Rs. 43 crore had been earmarked in the Revised Estimate (RE) and another Rs 25 crore in the Budget Estimate, he added.

Under the ‘School Fagathansi Mission’, one government school each in all the 60 Assembly constituencies of the state has been selected for the upgradation as model schools in the first phase. All these schools would be run and developed in a uniform pattern.

CM Nongthombam Biren at the Inaugural Ceremony of School Fagathansi Mission in Imphal.

The Chief Minister said that a monthly review meeting would be held to track progress and identify the needs of the schools run under the mission. After the inauguration of 60 schools in each constituency, another 60 schools would also be identified soon for the next phase, he added.

He also stressed on the need to change the education pattern of the state so that children can be nurtured in a manner which makes them responsible citizens and job creators rather than those who aspire to seek only government jobs.

Moreover, Manipur Education Minister Sorokhaibam Rajen also keeps on claiming that the enrolment of students in government schools has increased.

Recently, Manipur Education Minister S Rajen on October 31, 2021 while speaking as Chief Guest at the occasion of the Premiere Show of the play “Ereipakkidamak” based on the New Education Policy (NEP) at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen, Palace Compound, Imphal has informed that enrolment in government schools has increased to six times than before. He also said that it is because of the improvement in infrastructure in the government schools and education system of the State.

There has been a turning point in the mindsets of the people of Manipur, particularly the guardians, regarding the education of their children, he added. He also said that the teachers of Government schools are all well qualified. They possessed all the required talents of being an ideal teacher.

He also appealed the people of the State to send their kids to the Government schools as there have been efforts by the Government to improve these schools to the best.

It is also noteworthy to recall what Manipur Education Minister Sorokhaibam Rajen said on October 8, 2020 at a reception programme organised by Directorate of State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) at Multipurpose Hall of SCERT, Imphal.

The Education Minister S Rajen said his priority is to develop government schools while it is high time to question why people prefer private schools to government schools for the education of their children.

“If private schools continue to dominate government schools, there will be many school dropouts in the state. The reason is that the majority of the population of the state are daily bread earners who are not able to afford the expenses to admit their children in private schools,” the Education Minister said.

While saying that lack of infrastructure and improper administration are the reasons the government schools are lagging behind, Rajen said that the government schools should also be set up and established in such a way that it attracts students.

Rajen also assured that he will not compromise on any grounds to bring a better education system in the state and will inspect schools in different areas and develop it to attract the students and parents.

Interestingly, the BJP-led Government of Manipur keeps consistently claiming that the enrolment of students in government schools since the present government led by Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren has taken up many programmes.

Once again, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren while launching ‘School Fagathansi Mission’ on January 5, 2021 at Oinam Government Girls’ High School in Oinam Assembly Constituency and Leimapokpam Government Public High School in Nambol Assembly Constituency both in Bishnupur district informed that enrolment of students in government schools had also witnessed a steep rise during their period.

Speaking at the occasion, Chief Minister Biren further said that School Fagathansi mission was launched to improve the Government schools both in terms of physical and manpower infrastructure at par with the private schools.

Government schools have seen lots of improvement in the past three and half years. Number of position holders among the students of Government schools in Class X and Class XII examinations had increased considerably, he added.

In the same occasion, delivering his presidential speech, Education Minister Sorokhaibam Rajen said that under the School Fagathansi Mission of Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren, the enrolment of students in Government schools had considerably increased. The new Government had been putting tireless efforts for bringing inclusive development in different sectors since its formation.

Manipur Education Minister Sorokhaibam Rajen announcing 60 government schools in 2nd phase of School Fagathansi Mission

 

Again, announcing the names of 60 schools for the second phase of School Fagathansi Mission on June 19, 2021, Manipur Education Minister Sorokhaibam Rajen said that after the successful implementation of the first phase, the second phase of School Fagathansi Mission is being initiated and the achievements shown during the first phase have given hope for the successful mass enrolment of students in government schools.

However, in contrast to the claims of the BJP-led Government of Manipur, the ASER Report 2021 says that the enrolment of students in government schools in Manipur has fallen.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is a citizen-led household survey that provides nationally representative estimates of children’s schooling status and their foundational reading and arithmetic skills. In its standard format, the survey reaches children in the age group of 3-16 in almost all rural districts of India. It is carried out each year since 2005 by volunteers from partner organisations like colleges, universities, non-profit organisations, and teacher training institutes, among others.

Enrolment of students in government schools has fallen in Manipur from 26.8% in 2018 to 13.4% in 2021, says the 16th Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2021 released on November 17, 2021.

This is in contrast to the all-India level data, enrolment of students in government schools in all India level the percentage of children aged 6-14 has increased from 64.3 in 2018 to 70.3 in 2021.

Unfortunately, the percentage point change in the proportion of children aged 6-14 in government schools between 2018 and 2021 for Manipur is minus 13.4 while the all India level is positive 6.1

Moreover, the ASER Report 2021 says that a decline in private school enrolment was first seen in 2020 in all-India level, when it dropped from 32.5% in 2018 to 28.8% for 6-14-yearolds.

The all-India level data shows that for children in the age group of 6-14, enrolment in private schools has decreased from 32.5% in 2018 to 24.4% in 2021. This shift is seen in all grades and among both boys and girls. However, boys are still more likely to be enrolled in private schools than girls, the report added.

From the Report, it is important to note that the percentage of children aged 6-14 not currently enrolled in schools for Manipur has sharply increased from 1.1 in 2018 to 15.5 in 2021 while the all India data shows the increase from 2.5 in 2018 to 4.6 in 2021.

However, in all India level government school enrolment remained steady at about 65% – the drop in private school enrolment was accompanied by more children not being enrolled in school rather than a shift to government schools.

Between 2020 and 2021, in contrast, out of school numbers have held steady, private school enrolment has continued to drop and we see a big jump in government school enrolment across all age groups in all-India level. Government school enrolment, in contrast, has been declining since 2006 till it stabilised at around 65% in 2018, jumping only in the last year to reach 70.3% in 2021 in all India level.

With out of school numbers stabilising or falling between 2020 and 2021, private school enrolment continuing to decline and a majority of children being back in school, government school enrolment has jumped significantly in 2021. Many affordable smaller private schools have shut down during the pandemic (UNICEF 2021) – this could also be driving the shift to government schools. Finally, with many migrants moving back to their villages with their families, the demand for public education is likely to have gone up during this period, the report said.

In contrast, in many Northeastern States, government school enrollment has fallen during this period. For instance, in Nagaland and Manipur (13.4) government school enrollment fell by more than 11 percentage points. Interestingly, the shift has not been to private schools but rather is reflected in much larger numbers of currently not enrolled children in these states.

This implies that the government schools in Manipur still cannot attract the much larger numbers of children who are currently not enrolled in any school and their parents.

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