The Municipal School Board of Vadodara will start four new English medium schools in the city from the upcoming academic year in a bid to revive enrollment of students.
Of these, three schools had already started mid-term in August last year to accommodate students admitted under the Right To Education (RTE) Act who were denied admissions in minority schools. These schools will start taking admissions full-fledged from the academic year 2019-2020.
The decision comes in the wake of the declining number of student enrollment in schools run by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). All the English medium classes will function from the same school building as their Gujarati or Hindi counterparts, VMC officials said.
With the four new schools, the total number of VMC-run English medium schools will now be five.
According to officials, student enrollment has dipped by 24.25 per cent in the last six years. While the number of students studying in these schools stood at 38,814 in 2012-2013, it dropped to 29,398 in 2018-19, they added. The number of schools which were 104 in 2012-13 rose to 106 in 2016-17 and again dropped to 102 in 2018-19.
“There are multiple reasons behind the dip in student enrollment in our schools. One of them is the preference of the parents to enroll their children in English medium schools. Keeping this in mind, we are working towards starting more English medium schools with facilities at par with the private schools. We had one English medium school from Class I to V which already has 359 students. The other three schools, which were started mid-way last year, will now commence fully,” said Administrative Officer of the Municipal School Board Dharmendrasinh Chudasama.
“The other reasons for the decline in student enrollment is the 25 per cent RTE admissions in private schools, which divert the students there. Also, we just have Classes up to Class VIII. So when students study in our schools they face difficulties in changing schools for further education. Schools generally give preference to their own students before admitting students from other schools,” he added.
According to official records, even the number of teachers in VMC-run schools has dropped by 8.6 per cent. While the number of sanctioned posts for teachers stands at 1,017, only 976 teachers are recruited at present. The ratio of student to teacher stands at 30:1.
Officials said that there is also a dearth of other staff members, including cleanliness workers, which are only 57 as against 202 sanctioned posts. The total expenditure per child as per official data has also declined to Rs 22,005.48 in 2018-19 from Rs 37,002.15 in 2017-18 and Rs 29,672.80 in 2016-17.
Talking to The Indian Express, principal of Kavi Dulakak primary school said, “We started the English medium school mid-way last year, but the response was overwhelming. We do not know if Gujarati medium students will switch to the English medium from the same school. But we already received queries from parents whose children study in nearby private schools for the next academic term. We are expecting a good enrollment next year as well both from Class I and II.”
“The school is being developed as a model smart school through government as well as CSR funding. We have two smart classes where students are taught through online tutorials and study aids. We are also trying to create two more smart classes for the students keeping the new addition of English medium school in mind,” he added.
Following the mid-term admissions in August in the new English medium schools, 12 students were enrolled in Chanakya Primary School, 30 students in Kavi Dulakak Primary School and three students in Chandrashekhar Azad Primary School. The schools however are yet to be listed under the District Education System for Education. Of the 102 VMC run schools, one is a English medium and Marathi medium school each, 13 Hindi medium schools and 87 Gujarati medium schools.