Even as the state government has been opened and upgraded over 800 schools in the last three years, the enrolment rate, especially in primary schools has taken a plunge downwards.
In primary classes, the number of enrolments has come down from 5.89 lakh in 2003 to 3.23lakh in 2015.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) report—district information system for education (DISE) for year 2015-16—revealed that in all there are 14, 33, 260 students in the schools of Himachal, out of which 9, 31, 187 students are in government run schools.
In 2003, when the first DISE report was published, the number of schools was 14,964 including 13,925 government institutions. Enrolment across the state was 10, 86, 819 including 9, 71, 329 in the government schools making up to 89.50%.
Only 1.15 lakh were enrolled in aproximately 1,000 private schools.
Today, there are 18,039 schools across the state of which 15,327 are government schools. Of total 14, 44, 260 students enrolled in the state, 9, 31, 187 (65%) are in government schools while around 2,700 private schools have over 5 lakh students enrolled.
Major loss in the enrolment is in primary classes.
The decline in the enrolment rate in the government schools has been attributed it to the improved living standards and low fertility rate in the state. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh had informed the Vidhan Sabha that due to the easy availability of private schools, low fertility rates and improving the living standards, the enrolment in government schools is declining.”
In 2015, the state had 5.81 students enrolled in all schools, out of which, 3.23lakh (55%) were in government schools and 2.57 lakh (45%) in private schools. The enrolment in primary schools has come down drastically since 2003. In 2003, 77,000 were enrolled in private schools which is only 11% of total students enrolled in the state in primary education.
Government not in the mood to merge schools
Earlier, a proposal had come from Mandi district to merge the primary schools into model schools but state government is not in the mood to merge despite the declining enrolment trend.
It was also a known fact that the norms to open new schools for the children coming from distant places, have not been followed in several cases. State had also sought suggestion over merging schools but nothing concrete was expected to be done as chief minister Virbhadra Singh had repeatedly refused to shut any school.
In 2021-22, same trend could lead to opposite picture
So far there were 55% students in government primary schools and overall 65% in the government schools. If the trend remained same, in the next 5-6 years, the picture would be just the opposite. Projection shows that there would be around 3.42 lakh students in private primary schools while 2.36 lakh in government schools by 2021-22.