As growth rate of population continues to fall in Kerala over the years,more schools have become ‘uneconomic’,a term used to describe schools which have insufficient strength of children in them.
According to the Economic Review-2013 of the state Planning Board,4,641 schools in the state come under this category in 2011-12,showing an increase of 334 from the previous year.
Over 70 per cent of them are primary schools,where children from first to seventh standard enrol. Out of these,2,271 are government schools and 2,343 are aided schools.
Kannur district in north Kerala has the highest number of 685 uneconomic schools. Considered as a state where family planning initiatives achieved the greatest success over the decades,Kerala had one of the country’s lowest population growth rate of 4.9 per cent in the last decade. Children in the age group of 0-6 accounted for a mere 10 per cent of the state’s total population.
A state that has made sterling performance in education sector by achieving cent per cent literacy and universal primary education,a total of 39.86 lakh children enrolled in schools in 2012-13,which marked a 6 per cent decrease over the previous year.
The enrollment in the Lower Primary schools fell by 135000 and in the Upper Primary by 93000 2012-13,a clear indication that the change in the demographic pattern due to lower birth rate is the prime factor for the trend.
Though fall in enrollment has been turning more and more schools economically unviable,teachers unions of all hues have strongly opposed job cuts and closures,compelling the government to run primary educational institutions with less than the required class strength.
The unions have held that lower birth rate alone is not the reason for the government and aided schools turning ‘uneconomic’ for which proliferation of fully private ‘unaided’ schools has contributed significantly.