In Pune District, Zilla parishad schools are losing 10,000 students a year

No amount of wooing students through free uniforms,food and textbooks seems to help Zilla Parishad-run schools as the number of students in ZP-run primary schools in the district has come down by 10,000 in one year.

ATIKH RASHID

NO amount of wooing students through free uniforms,food and textbooks seems to help Zilla Parishad (ZP)-run schools as the number of students in ZP-run primary schools in the district has come down by 10,000 in one year.

While parents and experts are blaming poor quality of education in ZP schools as compared to that in private schools,ZP education officer Dattatraya Shendkar says the decline in number of students is due to “fall in birth rate in recent years”.

According to official data available with ZP Education Department,in 2010-11,there were 3,613 ZP primary schools (from Classes I to VII) in the district that had 2,66,372 students on the roll.

This year (2011-12),while the number of schools have gone up by 112 to 3,725,the number of students has come down to 2,56,347. The most steep decline has been in Haveli,Bhor,Indapur,Junnar and Mulashi.

According Shendkar,the reason for the decline in the number of students is the changing population dynamics in the country. “The effforts that the government had been taking for population control has paid off. There is a fall in birth rate which is the the main reason for the decline in number of students in the ZP primary schools. I estimate that the number will keep going down (with the decrease in the birth rate),” said Shendkar who,at the same time admits that number of student getting admission in Class I is high (46.407 in 2011-12).

When asked if emergence of private primary schools,Marathi and English,in rural parts of the district could have played a role, Shendkar said they also could have played a minor role in the decline.

“There are hardly any private primary schools in the villages. There are few at the taluk headquarters but students from distant villages can’t go there and they depend on ZP schools,” said Shendkar. But according to educationist Ramesh Panase,it’s “ridiculous” to link the dwindling rate of students in ZP schools to birth rate.

The inclination of parents towards the private schools as opposed to government schools is a nationwide phenomenon and the major reason for this is parents’ perception that their child will not get good quality education in government schools as compared to private schools.

“Another reason is that parents are preferring English medium schools for their children as they want them to be fluent in the language and very few ZP schools offer English medium education,” said Panase.

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