Despite having adequate teaching infrastructure as per the Right to Education Act 2009, Mumbai’s municipal schools have failed to retain students.
This is the finding in the latest white paper on the status of municipal education released by Praja, an NGO, on Tuesday.
Although the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has doubled its education budget since 2009-10, 11% of its students have dropped out since then. In 2013-14, 12 out of 100 students dropped out from municipal schools compared to nine out of 100 in 2012-13.
Even the number of new admissions has dropped drastically - as much as 41% over the last five years. In 2009-10, a total of 67,477 children took admission in Class 1, whereas in 2013-14 admissions dropped to 39,663.
The NGO has speculated that at the current rate, the number of students taking admission in Class 1 is likely to fall to 23,072 by 2016-17.
“There is a massive dropout rate but the BMC is not taking responsibility,” said Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee of Praja.
A household survey conducted as part of the paper found that over 63% of the parents said they were unhappy with the quality of education at municipal schools.
Experts said the problem was that the RTE norms focus on quantity rather than quality. “All the municipal schools are complying with RTE norms, but there is no focus on quality of the schools,” said Milind Mhaske, project director at Praja. “But, parents are demanding quality and not freebies.”
The report also found that though education inspectors were giving good remarks to teachers in municipal schools, students’ performance is not improving. The pass percentage of students in SSC exams 2014 was 83% in private schools, but only 67% in municipal schools.
A BMC official said such reports should be taken with a pinch of salt.
“This year’s SSC performance is much better than last year’s 60% pass percentage,” the official said. He added that it was unfair to compare civic school students with those in private schools as students come from different backgrounds and at times do not have support from home.
“NGOs come out with such reports hoping the BMC would outsource the work to them,” said a senior education official.