ENROLMENT of students in the primary section of municipal schools has dropped for the second consecutive year, according to a Praja Foundation report. The academic year 2016-17 saw a drop of 6.75 per cent in enrollment of class I students in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools compared to last year, according to the report released Tuesday by Praja Foundation.
The data highlights a time-series analysis of enrollments in MCGM schools, indicating 34,549 enrollments in 2015-16, which dropped to 32,218 in 2016-17. Researchers expect the numbers to dip to 16,275 by 2020-21. Semi-English medium schools, started by BMC to improve enrollment rates have also proven to be ineffective, according to the study. Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee of Praja Foundation said, though English has become a passport to a better future, dropout rate in semi-English medium schools is eight per cent, which is greater than the dropout rate of Mumbai public schools at two per cent.
“We need to change quality of education to change the perception of municipal schools,” he added.
Other indicators of a student’s performance including scholarships and SSC exam results were also rated as poor in municipal schools as compared to other schools. Responses to Praja Foundation’s RTI enquiries conclude that the gap in the pass percentage of BMC school students and other school students in SSC exams has increased substantially – from 8.35 per cent in 2016 to 22.89 per cent in 2017. Similarly, percentage of high school scholarship holders in BMC schools is 0.6 per cent as opposed to 10.9 percent in private ones.
The report also states that “more questions were asked by (municipal) councillors on naming schools (10) than on the dropout rate (three)”. The paper suggests that per-child allocation estimates in municipal schools increased from Rs 49,835 in 2016-17 to Rs 52,142 in 2017-18.
Mehta said, “The BMC spends money but we are not getting consistent quality of education. As per the Right to Education norms, we have good infrastructure and teachers are trained but there is a falling level of trust among parents in municipal schools because they believe in the broader scope provided by private schools, irrespective of their economic abilities”.
Despite the BMC’s efforts, parents are primarily unhappy with the limited scope and standard of education provided in BMC schools, said Milind Mhaske, project director of Praja Foundation.
According to a BMC circular issued in October 2017, teachers are held accountable for a student’s poor performance and a fine is imposed on them. However, Mehta believes one cannot pin down the responsibility on teachers alone. He emphasised on establishing clear accountability and strict third-party monitoring.