The rise in the number of private schools and the strength of students in them has led some government schools to worry about the declining number of students in them and they have been forced to run awareness and publicity campaigns to attract students like private schools.
While a private school costs a student about Rs 50,000 per year on an average, the government school provides free education with some incentives. However, even then people prefer private schools for their children over government ones.
Worried about the decline in the number of students in the Government Primary School, Aulakh, its teachers are making all-out efforts to attract more children by distributing pamphlets, putting up flex signboards, meeting people and making announcements assuring them of quality education free of cost.
About 12 years ago, the school had nearly 270 students. But, over the years, the number of students has continuously declined and last year, the number of students in the school came down to 185 only.
“We are providing all facilities and also teaching English from Class-1. We are going to people to tell them that we are at par with private schools and have highly qualified and trained staff. We charge no fees, rather provide books, uniform and midday meal too,” said Gurdevinder Singh Dhillon, headmaster of the school.
“We have started the campaign in advance because we are under pressure due to a number of private schools in the area. They admit children early and lure them in many ways.” Says Gurdevinder.
However, Parminder Singh Brar, district education officer (primary), Faridkot, does not fully agree that private schools are the only reason for the declining number of students in government schools. “Actually, the number of students in government schools is declining due to the impact of ‘one child’ concept in society. However, people have a mindset due to the era of competition without properly understanding that there is no difference between government and private schools.”
“So, we have launched a drive using all means of communication. To make people aware that there is no difference in education in a government or a private education. Yesterday, we approached the people in Lambhwali to encourage them to admit their children in government schools,” Brar said.
In about 248 government schools, there are only about 31,000 students from Class 1 to 5 and most of them come from economically backward categories.