The Hindu: Mumbai: Friday, May 05, 2017.
The State has registered a decline in admissions to primary schools, both government-run and private, in the State in the last five years, with Mumbai, Thane, Nagpur, Ahmednagar and Solapur districts recording the sharpest drops.
Data made available by the Education Department to activist Anil Galgali under the Right to Information (RTI) Act shows that compared to 2012-13, when 1.62 crore admissions to Classes I to VIII were registered, 2016-17 recorded 1.59 crore new admissions.
The primary school admissions for 2012-13 included 86.27 lakh boys and 75.99 lakh girls. The corresponding figures for 2016-17 were 84.95 lakh boys and 74.89 lakh girls. Thus, the total number of admissions fell by around 2.40 lakh.
Mumbai district registered 8,77,685 admissions in 2012-13, and the number dropped to 7,82,084 in 2016-17.
In contrast, overall fresh appointments of elementary level teachers have steadily increased in the last three years, from 4,05,855 in 2014-15 to 4,06,292 in 2015-16 to 4,08,767 in 2016-17. The data shows, however, that recruitments have dipped in government schools, but increased in private institutions.
Hence, though the overall teacher-student ratio has improved, it is a result of the sharp decline in admissions.
Mr. Galgali said, “With over 2.4 lakh fewer school admissions reported, how is there an increase in teacher recruitments by over 2,000? We need to have a clear policy to monitor and maintain the student-teacher ratio in Maharashtra.”
Interestingly, recruitment of teachers in Mumbai schools has witnessed a decline over the last four academic years. In Thane district, meanwhile, both admissions and recruitments initially plummeted, only to show a marginal increase in recent years (see box).
The activist emphasised the State’s lack of a clear policy by citing indicators of other districts like Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad, which have shown an year-on-year increase in admissions, while the recruitment of teachers has reduced.
Pune, for instance, saw admissions increase from 12.87 lakh in 2012-13 to 13.83 lakh in 2016-17, but recruitments dipped from 26,247 in 2013-14 to 25,476 in 2016-17 (see box). Thus, the teacher-student ratio has deteriorated.
Nand Kumar, principal secretary, School Education and Sports, told The Hindu, “There is in fact a reduction in the number of admissions, but the gap is not as large as two-lakh plus. While the last academic year saw 20 lakh new admissions in the State, this year there is a drop and the admissions are pegged at around 19,76,000, which is not a big gap. Moreover, this is on account of a consistent drop in birth rate figures in Maharashtra as per the census figures available as on February 28, 2011. I have seen these figures and even the discriminatory increase in certain urban centres is owed to the fact that there is heightened migration of families towards urban centres. You must have noticed that the Mumbai urban region shows reduced admissions while suburban Mumbai exhibits an increase.”
Mr. Kumar said the data he was quoting was available under the Unified District Information System of Education (UDISE). Mr. Galgali, however, maintained that data provided to him was also from UDISE.