Since pandemic outbreak, 15,000 students in Himachal have shifted to government schools
The prolonged school closure and financial troubles brought about by the pandemic-induced lockdown have forced many parents to shift their children from private to government schools. In Himachal, an estimated 15,000 students have migrated to government schools since the pandemic outbreak last March.
Education secretary Rajiv Sharma said, “This time, we have received orders for 30,000 additional dresses under the Atal Vardi Yojana.” The government had launched the Atal School Vardi Yojana for students of state-run school, under which all students of Classes 1 to 12 get free uniforms. Each student is provided two sets of uniform.
As per information, in Classes 1 to 8, there has been an increase of 13,526 in the student strength while in Classes 11 and 12, there was a rise of 9,373. There was no change in the strength of Classes 9 & 10. Majority of the parents have opted for government schools in suburban areas.
“The exodus is mostly from smaller private schools. It is possible that parents have more faith in government school but the exorbitant fees charged by private schools could also be the reason,” said the education secretary.
Vijender Mehra, head of the Chatra Abhiwavak Sangh, a forum of parents opposing heavy school fees, said, “The fee charged by some of the private schools is too high, and some of the charges are totally uncalled for.”
Parents across the states have been constantly demanding that the government regulate private school fee. In wake of the public outrage, Himachal Pradesh government had in June finalised a draft for bringing a legislation to regulate the school fee structure. However, the bill was not tabled in the House during the monsoon session. Himachal would have become the second state after Delhi to introduce such a legislation, if it was passed.
The government had constituted a high-level committee, headed by the education minister, to look into the matter. The panel has already submitted its report to the government, which was submitted before the state cabinet for approval so that a necessary law is enacted.
The draft of the Himachal Pradesh private schools (regulation of fee and other related matters) Bill, 2021, has already been uploaded on the website of the state education department for seeking suggestions and objections from the public. Despite government orders in the past two years, many private schools did not follow the directions, claiming there was no law in the state to regulate the fee.