ASER 2021 Survey: Big Increase In Enrolment In Government Schools Thanks To Covid-19 Induced Financial Stress
The enrolment in private schools has decreased from 32.5 per cent in 2018 to 24.4 per cent in 2021 among the children in age group six to 14 years.
The proportion of children in government schools has jumped from 64.3 per cent in 2018 to 70.3 per cent in 2021.
The recently-released Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), a survey conducted this year in 25 states and three Union Territories covering a total of 76,706 households and 75,234 children in the age group of 5-16 years, has confirmed the concerns that experts have been raising since the Covid-19 pandemic begun.
The most important is the big shift that has taken place in enrolment from private schools to government ones. The enrolment in private schools has decreased from 32.5 per cent in 2018 to 24.4 per cent in 2021 among the children in age group six to 14 years. The proportion of children in government schools has jumped from 64.3 per cent in 2018 to 70.3 per cent in 2021.
As the table above shows, there were only 2.5 per cent children who were not enrolled in schools in 2018. This has increased to 4.5 per cent now.
Even in the age group 15-16 years, government school enrolment has gone up by 10 percentage points over 2018 levels. One positive finding is that, interestingly, the proportion of children not enrolled has declined from 12.1 per cent to 6.6 per cent — the only age category where improvement has been recorded, perhaps because of increase in government schools, where the cost of schooling is less.
As far as enrolment shift to government schools from private ones is concerned, it’s visible among both genders and across all grades with the biggest shift seen among boys in the lowest grades. This shows how big an impact Covid-19 has had on the education sector.
Among states, the biggest increase in government school enrolment is seen in Uttar Pradesh and Kerala. With the exception of Telangana, all southern states have witnessed an increase of more than eight percentage points in government school enrolment.
As the table below shows, in 2018, there were four states where less than 50 per cent children were enrolled in government schools. Now, only Haryana remains in the list even after witnessing an increase of 6.6 percentage points.
These findings from the household survey were confirmed by the ASER’s school survey of teachers or head teachers from 7,299 government schools offering primary grades. They cited Covid-induced financial distress, free facilities provided by government schools and classes not being held in private schools (in this order) as three biggest reasons for this shift followed by migration.
The survey also recorded significant rise in children taking private tuitions with highest increase seen among those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. Moreover, while many parents have bought smartphones for their children to attend classes, these were not readily available to them especially in poorer states in Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha.
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