Pattern of admissions shows preference for private schools
The apprehension expressed by a few Ministers in the Cabinet meeting on Monday that the focus on providing 25 per cent quota to disadvantaged sections under the Right to Education Act in private schools could eventually mean neglect and closure of government schools is not too far fetched if the present school admission pattern in urban centres is any indicator.
Predictably, the rate of enrolment in Class 1 in government-run primary schools is significantly lower than in private unaided schools in cities like Bangalore. Smaller cities, which do not have as many private schools, however, show people's increasing aspiration to join private schools.
Numbers tell a tale
According to the District Information System for Education (DISE) data for 2011-12, the total number of government lower and higher primary schools (LPS and HPS) in Bangalore North is 511 and Bangalore South 891. The enrolment for Class 1 in government schools in these two divisions stands at 9,728 and 16,707, respectively, as on September 2011.
In contrast, the number of unaided private LPS and HPS schools in Bangalore North is 937 and 1,377 in Bangalore South. Class 1 enrolment in unaided schools in these two divisions, according to DISE figures, stand at 43,045 and 65,774.
If 25 per cent reservation is observed strictly in all unaided schools, the number of those currently going to government schools can be absorbed by the unaided schools over the next few years. For example, 25 per cent of 43,045 children in Bangalore South would add up to 10,761 seats, which is over the total number of children admitted in government schools in the same division (9,728).
It would, however, depend on how the government defines a “minority institution”, since unaided minority schools are exempt from enforcing 25 per cent reservation. If the government decides, as proposed, to give minority tag to only those with more than half its students from the minority groups, most schools would have to implement the quota rule.
If not, an estimated 2,000 private unaided institutions in Bangalore North, South and Rural will remain outside the quota rule, which will mean far fewer seats under quota for the deprived sections.
The situation in Bangalore makes an interesting comparison. Bangalore Rural shows an increasing aspiration towards private schools, even as the number of private schools remains relatively low. The district has 1,123 government schools and 164 unaided private primary schools. The Class 1 enrolments in them stand at 8,144 and 6,638, respectively, reflecting phenomenally higher enrolment rate in private schools.
In the educationally backward Yadgir, there were 23,470 Class 1 enrolments in government schools, as against 5,563 in unaided schools.
There are 935 government and 168 unaided private schools here, which again shows a better enrolment rate in private schools.