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Chief Minister Biren and Education Minister Basantakumar in a graduation function of STAR Education Programme on July 16, 2022

Manipur Government Needs a Scientific Study to Determine Ways to Increase Student Enrolment In Government Schools

While addressing the opening of two-day third session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Session on February 2, 2023 the Governor of Manipur La Ganesan said, among others, that my govemment is taking various steps to develop the education sector.

Highlighting the performance of the Government of Manipur regarding higher education, the Governor said that under Mission NAAC 2.5+, accreditation of 20 Govemment colleges by National Assessment and Accreditation Council has been achieved.

To assist civil service aspirants, free physical classroom coaching has been started for 200 aspirants under the chief Minister’s Scholarship scheme for Civil Services Coaching.

Under Chief Minister’s College Maheiroi E-Support Scheme, 2,000 smart phones were distributed to meritorious students belonging to poor families for providing access to various e-learning platforms.

‘Bamboo lnnovation and lncubation centre’ has been set up in ManipurTechnical University. MTU has also become a member of the United Nations Academic lmpact and of lndia Universities and lnstitutions Network for Disaster Risk Reduction.

To empower students with latest knowhow in automobile sector and strengthen employment opportunities, Govemment polytechnic, Takyelpat signed a MoU with TOYOTA KIRLOSKAR to set up Toyota Technical Education programme.

Drawing attention of the members of the House, the Governor said that infrastructure deveropment projects of Dhanamanjuri University for a total cost of Rs. 55 crore under RUSA were inaugurated.

Regarding school education, the Governor said, “Under ‘Schoor Fagathansi Mission’, 120 High and Higher secondary schools have been covered. Student enrorlment increased by over 30% from 2019 to 2022 academic sessions in phase-I. An increase of 5.98% was recorded in Phase-ll. To address other gaps, 10,630 pairs of dual desk and benches were provided; 106 new crassrooms, 98 new toilets and 32 science Laboratories and Libraries constructed, and 687 classrooms repaired.”

Highlighting the efforts for digital learning, the Governor said that 5,000 Tablets preloaded with digital learning content were distributed to students of 310 Govemment schools under State-wide integrated Education Management System and Digital Leaming platform.

STAR Education programme is also being implemented in 253 schools covering all districts. Under this, 10,876 tablets were distributed to primary Teachers to enable them to use resources available on various digital portals.

Regarding inclusiveness of local contents in the school curriculum, “My Government enriched local contents in textbooks of Science, Mathematics and Social Science for classes I to VIII. A write up on Mount Manipur was included in Social Science text book of Class Vlll,” the Govenor La Ganesan said.

Now, from the Governor’s address regarding school education in Manipur, the increase in the student enrolment in government schools and implementation of STAR Education programme need to be discussed.

The Manipur Government said that student enrorlment increased by over 30% from 2019 to 2022 academic sessions in phase-I and an increase of 5.98% was recorded in Phase-ll while the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Report 2022 said the enrolment of children in the age group of 6-14 years in government schools in Manipur has increasded from 28.0% in 2018 to 32.8% in 2022. The All India increase in enrolment in Government schools has increased from 65.6% in 2018 to 72.9% in 2022.

It may be recalled that Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on February 12, 2020 in his frist term 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.

Earlier, ASER Report 2021 said that student enrolment in government schools in Manipur had declined to 13.4% in 2021 from 26.8% in 2018 while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Manipur government claimed that the number of students enrolled in government schools had increased due to various programmes taken up to improve the government schools like School Fagathansi Mission. Imphal Reviews published about this on November 27, 2021.

Notably, the Manipur Government denounced the ASER Report 2021 when it said that the student enrolment in government schools has declined from 26.8% in 2018 to 13.4% in 2021.

However, this time the Manipur Government is not against the ASER Report 2022 as it has found according to the latest survey, the student enrolment in government schools in Manipur has increased to 32.8% in 2022.

Here, it is pertinent to ask – Is student enrolment in government schools increased due to the various programmes taken up by the govenrment like “School Fagathansi Mission” and STAR Education programme, the Manipur Governor, La Ganesan higlighted in his address in the Assembly or aren’t there other factors for students migrating to government schools from private schools?

One area which we need to study further for students migrating from private school to government schools thereby increasing in student enrolment in government schools to 32.8% in 2022 is the economic and financial conditions of the parents and guardians of the students due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Moreover, another area which needs serious debate and discussion is about the STAR Education programme.

The Governor of Manipur La Ganesan said in his address that STAR Education programme is also being implemented in 253 schools covering all districts.

STAR Education is short form of System Transformation and Rejuvenation of Education, which is the flagship programme of the Government of Manipur to transform the education system of Manipur through excellence in teaching and learning in classrooms, ensuring strong learning outcomes for children and better growth for the state.

According to STAR Education, it is said that the Chief Minister of Manipur launched the School Fagathansi Mission under the ambitious “Go to Village” mission of the Government of Manipur. The Government has a visionary plan for education. It will transform Government schools into schools of excellence, paving the way for economic development and prosperity of Manipur through the transformation of physical infrastructure and manpower.

With physical upgradation underway, the Government of Manipur now aims to transform the teaching and learning across all schools in the state through STAR Education.

Here, some pertinent questions arise – Will STAR Education exclusively run the 253 government schools with the physical infrastructures and manpower resources provided by the Manipur Government? If these schools have to be run jointly by the STAR Education and Education Department (Schools) of Manipur Government, how can it be practically possible with transparency? Or Will the State Government give all the responsibilities to improve school education in Manipur to STAR Education?

In a nutshell, the Government of Manipur needs a scientific study to find out the factors which increase in student enrolment in government schools.

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