With an aim to improve the government school system in Maharashtra, the Human Resource Development Ministry has directed the state government to form a strategy to address the shift of enrollment from government schools to private ones. Union officials also pointed out the enrollment shift from Marathi to English medium schools. According to the Project Approval Board (PAB) 2016-17 meeting, there was an increase of enrollment in English medium schools by 2,65,478 in 2015-16 as compared to 2014-15. At the same time the Marathi medium schools have witnessed a decline in enrollment by 24,228 in 2015-16 as compared to 2014-15.
According to the latest state government statistics, over 4,000 children have switched from private schools to government ones this year so far. The top five districts witnessing such migration are Ahmednagar (256), Satara (197), Latur (146), Bhandardara (118) and Thane (48). The switch is happening in all classes. Even though the shift started a couple of years ago, the government started compiling data only this year. Mumbai is not included as schools here are under the municipal corporation.
Despite indications from the state government that government schools are improving, the MHRD’s direction is in the list of Agenda for the state government for the academic year 2016-17 and thereafter. “The government run schools are running in all fronts. The state government is already working towards improving the scenario of government education. We are looking towards bringing in a major transformation within the next three years. Due to the previous government, a large number of private institutions came up and no attention was given to upgrading existing government institutions,” said a senior official of the school education department.
Marathi-medium schools have been bearing the brunt when it comes to the enrollment of students. A whopping 38 per cent decline in enrollment was registered in the last five years in government-run schools. The plight of civic-run Marathi-medium schools in the city is even worse.The student crunch forced the civic body to shut down or merge 34 schools in Mumbai. In 2010, there were 413 Marathi medium schools run by the BMC. The number has declined to 369 till 2015, according to the BMC. In the same period, Gujarati-medium schools faced a 41 per cent decline and enrollments in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada-medium schools declined by 43 per cent, 50 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.
With Marathi-medium schools failing to attract kids, the schools are facing the inevitable conclusion — shutdown. The decline in enrollments has crossed a demoralizing 60 per cent mark. More than 30,000 students have dropped out of civic schools in the past five years, according to a report by Praja Foundation, an NGO. This is despite the fact that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has a mid-day meal plan and charges very low fees in its schools. Principal Secretary of School Education Nand Kumar could not be reached for comment.