While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) school upgradation schemes have failed to impress parents of Marathi and English medium students resulting in low enrolment last year, enrolment to Urdu and Hindi medium schools run by the municipality has recorded a rise. During the last academic year, municipality-run Urdu and Hindi medium schools witnessed an increase in students’ enrolment.
According to data collected by Praja Foundation from the BMC’s education department, dropout rates for Hindi and Urdu medium schools had increased significantly between 2009 and 2014. From 9.6 per cent in 2009-10 for Hindi medium schools, the dropout rate increased to 17 per cent in 2013-14. Further, in Urdu medium schools, the dropout rate went up from six per cent in 2009-10 to 13.1 per cent in 2013-14.
The trend, however, was reversed since 2016-17. BMC education officials claim enrolment is now up by almost 6 and 10 per cent, respectively in Hindi and Urdu medium schools.
Mahesh Palkar, chief education officer of the BMC, said: “The majority of Muslim parents prefer Urdu schools to maintain their cultural identity. Moreover, many living in slums find English-medium schools unaffordable. The reason for improvement in enrolment is due to programmes/ schemes that we have introduced in these schools such as English speaking classes, helping students prepare for competitive exams, more emphasis on training students in arts and sports, etc. This, however, has not
worked for Marathi medium schools.”
Apart from starting various schemes, the BMC has also upgraded schools to offer classes up to Class V and Class VIII. Until 2016, the BMC had only 145 secondary schools with classes up to Class VIII or Class X. Earlier, the BMC had schools offering only classes up to Class IV and in some areas Class VII. This was one of the reasons for students dropping out.
The BMC started Class V in seven schools last academic year. A total number of 399 students had enrolled in the newly started classrooms. Of these, 259 secured admissions in Urdu medium, while 55 enrolled in Hindi medium schools. Remaining enrolled in other schools.
Of the total 125 schools that started classes up to Class VIII, 25 are Marathi medium schools with a student strength of 2,793 in the class.
While the student strength in 30 Hindi medium schools with Class VIII is 8,008. Similarly, the number of students in 18 Urdu medium schools with Class VIII is 5,523.
Currently, Mumbai has a total of 1,195 BMC-run schools.
“We always face a backlash from corporators and as well as educators that we are sidelining Marathi language and prioritising English. However, we have been working on all BMC schools equally, by putting equal efforts on all schools and not on a particular medium school. We respect the mother tongue of the child but English is vital too in the academic life of the student,” said a senior BMC official.