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Government school enrolments rise, private ones see dip in Covid year
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  • Government school enrolments rise, private ones see dip in Covid year

Government school enrolments rise, private ones see dip in Covid year

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According to a report government-run school system is responding better to pandemic disruptions than its private counterpart (AP)
NEW DELHI: With rise in enrolment, better availability of textbooks and increased access to digital devices, school education in rural India seems to be back on recovery path.
Even as the impact of learning loss and the road to complete recovery still pose challenges, the Annual Status of Education (Rural) (ASER-2021) survey report, while pointing towards these positive signs, also indicated that the government-run school system is responding better to pandemic disruptions than its private counterpart. The survey, conducted across 25 states and three UTs, has revealed a significant increase in children taking paid tuition during Covid-induced interruptions.
The report highlighted that as compared to 80.5% of enrolled children who had current textbooks in 2020, it increased to 91.9% this year.

As education shifted to online mode since schools were closed since March 2020, ‘digital divide’ became a big concern and had been highlighted in reports prepared by several government and nongovernment institutions in 2020. However, ASER 2021 indicates that the divide had been bridged significantly — as against 36.5% in 2018 and 61.8% in 2020, 67.6% of the enrolled children now have a phone available at home. While in 2020 it was found that post lockdown “a smartphone had been bought for studies for one out of 10 children”, the proportion this year has increased to 27.9%. Also the gap of access to devices between students from government schools and private schools too has come down.
A cause of concern, however, is that “having a smartphone at home doesn’t automatically translate to children having access to the device”, as 26.2% of all children in rural India who have a smartphone at home do not have access to it and 47% get access “sometimes”. There is also a substantial variation in access to smartphones as more kids in higher classes have access as compared to students in lower grades.
Enrolment in government rural schools crossed 70%, even higher than pre-Covid days. On the contrary, after a steady increase in enrolment in private schools from 2006 to 2014, it plateaued around mid-30% and significantly declined during the pandemic to 24.4%. Genderwise enrolment in government schools for girls is at 80% in 2021. State-wise, UP
(13.2%) and Kerala (11.9%) registered maximum increase in government school enrolment while the lowest increase were in Jharkhand
(2.8%), Bihar (2.8%) and West Bengal (3.9%), significantly lower than the national increase of 6.1% over the 2018 figure. Another key finding of the survey is that compared to pre-Covid days, when the proportion of rural students taking tuitions was below 30%, the same increased to 32.5% in 2020 and 39.2% in 2021.
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