In an alarming trend, 16 per cent to 30 per cent students of Class IX in 58 government schools of the city dropped out between 2015 and 2020. This exodus of students before completing matriculation is all the more disconcerting in a city, which was recently ranked second in the national performance grading index of school education 2019-20.
These facts came to light following an RTI (Right to Information Act) application filed with the UT education department by The Indian Express.
The information pertained to enrolment in classes IX and X from 58 government schools, which comprise 32 Government High Schools (GHS) up to Class X, and 26 Government Model Senior Secondary Schools (GMSSS) up to Class XII, in Chandigarh.
The detailed record shows though 37,607 students were enrolled in Class IX between 2014 and 2019, only 30,130 of them reached Class X in 58 government schools, leaving a gap of 7,477 students.
As per the UT policy, students are automatically promoted to the next class regardless of their grades till Class VIII. This means that all students, irrespective of their academic performance, reach Class IX in government schools of Chandigarh.
According to the record provided through RTI, at least 6,972 students were enrolled in Class IX in 58 government schools for the academic year 2014-15. In the next academic year 2015-16, 5,885 students took admissions in Class X in these 58 schools,leaving a gap of 16 per cent (1,087 students).
In 2015-16, 7,222 students took admissions in Class IX but the number of total admissions to Class X in 2016-17
was 6,122, leaving a gap of 1,100 students.
Out of the 7,708 students enrolled in Class IX in 2016-17, only 6,506 were promoted to Class X in 2017-18, with 1,202 students dropping out.
The next year (2018-19), 7,840 students joined Class IX but only 5,534 made it to Class X in 2019-20.
The accessed record suggests that at least 2,495 students dropped out after Class IX in 58 government schools between 2014 and 2020.
Prof Loveleen Kaur of Department of Community Education and Disability Studies at Panjab University stresses an in- depth study of this trend while social activist Parmod Sharma, who works in the field of education among underprivileged children, maintains that there are certain reasons behind this trend.
He says, “First, the education up to Class VIII is free in government schools in Chandigarh. Monthly fee is charged from Class IX. Apparently enrolment starts declining from the admissions in Class IX. Secondly, students fare badly in Class IX. Up to Class VIII, there is no policy to fail students in the city’s government schools. It is being observed that many of students of government schools fail to pass Class IX which automatically reduces the number of enrolments in Class X.”
Government Model Senior Secondary School (GMSSS), Sector 10, admitted 307 students in Class IX in 2014-15. In the next academic year 2015-16, 277 students out of 307 were enrolled in Class X in this school. In 2017-18, a total 313 students were enrolled in Class IX. The number of admissions were 280 in Class X in 2018-19, leaving a gap of 33 students.
Similarly, 151 students got admissions in Class IX in GMSSS, Sector 35, in 2017-18. In the next academic year 2018-19, 127 students got admitted in Class X in this school.
Chanchal Singh, a former District Education Officer, Chandigarh, who is currently working with Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CCPCR), says, “Among various reasons behind this trend is the eagerness to deliver best results of Class X. Government school managements are always under pressure to deliver better results in Class X. Hence, they discourage admissions to weak students from Class IX to Class X.”
However, Singh maintains that such students have the option to pursue further study through the Open School Education Board but there should be a mechanism to track the missing students.
There are a total of 114 government schools in Chandigarh. Out of these, 53 are high schools and 40 are senior secondary schools.
As the information sought by The Indian Express related to the classes up to Class IX, records of 32 high schools and 26 senior secondary schools were provided over the period of two months. The information was sought in February and the replies were received till May.
The information was sought on a total of five points: The number of government schools in Chandigarh, the figures of enrolled students in Class IX in these schools between the academic years 2015 and 2020, the number of of dropped out students in Class IX from the year 2015 to 2020, total enrolment of students in Class X in government schools and the total enrolment of students in Class XII school-wise.