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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

News Highlights

  • As per the UDISE+ report, during the five-year period of 2015-20, a massive 5,490 schools in the government sector have virtually stopped functioning in the State
  • Meanwhile, the private sector in the State has added nearly 2,298 schools to fleet during the period of reference.

Even as the Orissa High Court has recently invalidated the State government's move to shut down nearly 8000 elementary and primary schools, the 2019-20 UDISE+ report released recently reveals a big story. 

During the last five-year period, every year on an average around 1098 schools in the government sector have been shut down. The data shows a total of 69 higher secondary schools (having class 11 and 12th classes) in the government sector was shut down in 2019-20..

As per the UDISE+ report, during the five-year period of 2015-20, a massive 5,490 schools in the government sector have virtually stopped functioning in the State. Reflecting a big twist in the demography of school education in Odisha, data reveals while schools in the private sector during the last 5-years have started mushrooming, a trim down has been recorded in the State-government run schools only.

Though the State is still managing 79 per cent of a total of 67,020 schools in the State, the share of private sector schools has posted a high jump to take a pie of 9.5 per cent of the total schools in the State from a mere 5.8 per cent in 2015-16. Meanwhile, the private sector in the State has added nearly 2,298 schools to fleet during the period of reference.

Edu Scenario Turning Dicey? 

It seems the shutdown of government schools has a direct impact on the enrolment in the State. Sample the facts outlined below.

As per the UDISE+ 2019-20 report, the enrolment in the higher secondary education (means having 11th and 12th classes) in Odisha has witnessed a sharp drop vis-a-vis the year of 2018-19. From a high of over 10.75 lakh enrolment in higher secondary education level in 2018-19, the enrolment number has tumbled down to mere 7.69 lakh in 2019-20. 

Data reveals when number of government run higher secondary schools in the State in 2018-19 were 315, the count dropped to 246 in 2019-20; whereas, the tally in private sector took a jump to touch 1015 in 2019-20 from 567 in 2018-19.

Since government run schools have a higher enrolment, observers, therefore, draw a link between declining government run higher secondary schools to the sharp dip in enrolment at that level of education. 

The reason for a drop: The higher education in private sector is cost intensive, which the poor students in the State cannot afford. An ASER report had earlier indicated how the spending on private tuition has been on the rise in Odisha. Earlier, a Union HRD minsitry report (NUEPA) had shown high drop-out rate at the higher secondary level in Odisha.. 

The Trend In Secondary Schools
A trend, though, little muted has also been witnessed in the State at the level of secondary education (class 9th-10th schools) too. Consider the following facts.

•    The number of senior secondary schools (means having 9-10th classes) in the government sector in 2018-19 was 4,915, and the enrolment was over 12.9 lakh

•    Cut to 2019-20, the number of senior secondary schools shrunk to 4,877. The year saw closure of 38 government run senior secondary schools.

•    Sample the fall. The enrolment in 2018-19 was over 12.9 lakh in the State. But the enrolment data in 2019-20 dropped to 12.5 lakh. 

The bottom line: Though the School and Mass Education Minister Sameer Dash gave the reasoning in state Assembly that the government has decided to close nearly 8000 schools for the cause of poor enrolment, on the contrary, a comparative data analysis of UDISE+ clearly establishes a link between the closure of government run higher secondary schools to a corresponding sharp drop in enrolment.

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