Factors affecting enrolment in government schools, details here

Factors affecting enrolment in government schools

A dispassionate analysis is needed to understand the causes of decreasing enrolment in government schools

The government of Jammu and Kashmir deserves appreciation for launching the ongoing “enrollment drive” to increase the number of students at government schools. As per media reports, the big initiative has richly increased the number of admissions at these schools. Much more should be done.

Not only does this initiative reveal the seriousness of the education department towards the decreasing roll in the government schools but it also reflects the gravity of the situation which has led to this outstanding move from the department of school education. Full marks to the education department (J&K) for rising to the occasion.

 

Though the government, in year 2015, clubbed several government schools due to the consistent decrease of enrolment to stem the tide, things since then have neither been encouraging nor discouraging. Yet the fact remains that clubbing the schools did cast its positive impact as well: teachers came together sharing experiences and expertise which infused a new lease of life into the school atmosphere and achievement.

 

Pertinently, an enrollment drive by the J&K Department of Education was initiated towards the end of 2020 across the erstwhile state; teachers were visiting people’s homes to convince parents for admitting their children in government schools. The unique step was very successful because reportedly more than 40000 children were admitted at the government-run schools.

 

A dispassionate analysis is needed to understand the causes of decreasing enrolment in government schools. This author believes that the following major factors are responsible for decreasing admissions in the government schools —especially up to the secondary level.

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One, we have an expansive network of government and private schools in every area, every town, every village and every habitation/mohalla across Jammu and Kashmir. In this situation, the school-going children of a particular habitation get distributed mainly on the basis of quality education provided at a school. True, establishing new government schools and upgrading the existing ones has provided jobs to lakhs of youth besides increasing the literacy rate. But with the establishment of private schools alongside the public schools, the roll has taken a severe beating. Agreed, good efforts by government schools could have ensured a better enrollment with them.

 

Interestingly, the enrolment also declines at private schools purportedly because of the huge expenses—which parents allegedly fail to bear— or because of the dozens of these schools available in every habitation. On one hand, the multiple number of private schools means a healthy competition for better performance and signals the advent of progress in society. On the other hand, the growing number of such schools means people have many options to choose — a determining factor of admissions.

 

Two, our education primarily focuses on getting a government job. When we get it, we naturally heave a sigh of relief and with the passage of time begin to take things for granted. It can be assumed that this happens with almost all government jobs, including those of the government school teachers. So with no/little pressure to perform, the performance of government schools lags behind private schools and hits the enrollment there. In the context of private schools, the situation is different.

The teachers in the private sector find no reason to take things for granted: they realize that their job, even if low paid, survives on their performance. Consequently, they put in hard efforts to bring out the best results which can satisfy their employer. You often hear people saying that when so and so government teacher was working at a private school, he/she was brilliant at teaching. But why does that teacher not perform satisfactorily at a government school now? The major cause is he/she feels no pressure to perform at the government school. It is the pressure to perform that keeps private schools ahead of their counterparts in the government sector.

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Three, students at government schools are required to be directly admitted in the first standard whereas those of private schools are admitted in kindergarten (KG) classes, a preparatory stage for entry into primary education. In KG classes, students learn basics like alphabet, numbers which prepares them mentally for primary education. Since such classes have not officially been permitted at government schools, the children there are required to straightaway learn words, sentences and huge numbers in the first standard. That they find very difficult to learn and thus remain weaker and backward in learning than their counterparts at private schools. Consequently, this poor learning makes parents hate government schools and they withdraw their children from there, cursing government school teachers.

Four, at government schools, primary classes are generally taught by the untrained / non-B.ED degree teachers while the higher classes are taught by trained and post- graduate teachers. In this atmosphere, primary classes find it hard to raise their performance. As a result, the students later on show dismal performance in higher classes— a situation which forces parents to withdraw their children from government schools. That leads to low admissions.

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To address the constant enrolment decline, the J&K administration needs to come up with a systematic policy to regulate role in schools. KG classes may be formally permitted for government schools. Transfer — after two or three years —for teachers including the Reheber-e-Taleem pattern teachers of all categories, can prove a tonic of motivation for all the teachers. Follow up exercises to ensure accountability is a primary requirement. Notably, the exemplary commitment and honest dedication displayed by the JK government amid the COVID-19 pandemic towards the education of children can act as a real morale booster and stepping stone to take school education to its new heights.

Big moves like the enrollment drive initiated are very vital not only for inspiring people for trusting government schools but also sending a positive message across that the department of school education is capable of doing the best for the well-being of people. (Rising Kashmir)

 

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