Covid forces exodus of students from private to government schools in Chandigarh
More than 50% students from Classes 1 to 8 who joined government schools in this year of upheaval due to the Covid-19 pandemic have made the switch from private institutes, UT education department data shows.
Of the 9,233 students admitted to government schools between Classes 1 to 8 this year, 4,985 (54%) were from private institutes.
They had sought admission during online counselling held between July 31 and August 14.
Economic impact of Covid
Rubinderjit Singh Brar, UT director, school education (DSE), said the students were opting for government schools “due to the economic effect of the Covid pandemic and the lockdown.”
Education in government schools is free up to Class 8 in government schools under the Right to Education (RTE), so people going through an economic crisis or those who have lost their jobs have chosen such institutes, Brar added.
The influx was unlikely to add pressure on these schools, which had enough resources to accommodate students even as social distancing was required, he said.
Acknowledging the fact that students were moving out, Anuja Sharma, principal of DAV Model School, Sector 15, said parents were playing smart by getting their wards transferred after studying in private schools till September. “Parents are asking for transfer certificates and I received over ten such transfer requests on Tuesday. They are of the opinion that a large part of the academic year is over and by shifting to a government school, their children will be promoted under RTE even if conducting physical exams is not viable in these times.”
It was a double whammy, Sharma said, as “private schools are already reeling from the effects of the Covid lockdown and this has made things worse for us.”
Not all private schools reporting exodus
Not all private schools, however, are reporting an exodus. HS Mamik, president of the Independent Schools Association , said, “In the association as a whole such a trend hasn’t come up, although a few students leaving from some of the schools is possible.”
The need of the hour was to assess whether government schools will be able to teach better. “The government schools should also hire more teachers to ensure the teacher to student ratio doesn’t suffer,” Mamik added.
Attributing “the shift” to private schools demanding fees from students even during the lockdown, Nitin Goyal, president of the Chandigarh Parents Association, said: “Some students were removed from online classes and many others were threatened over non-payment of fees. The Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights had to intervene and prevent this, but the damage was done and students and their parents could have ended up feeling humiliated.”
Goyal added that the education department needed to analyse the trend and safeguard the interests of private school students.