Parents and school officials said a dispute over fee could be one of the main reasons for students switching to government schools.
According to data compiled by the school education department, 2,33,685 new admissions have been registered in classes I-XII across 14,000 government schools in 22 districts of the state. Currently, over 24 lakh students study in government schools. “It is encouraging to see that we have added over three lakh students in two years. This year, we added more than two lakh children. It is an indicator that our policies are bringing tangible changes,” said the additional chief secretary of the education department, Dr Mahavir Singh. Last year, 1,17,903 students moved out of private schools. Between 2014 and 2019, government schools recorded an average of 4% decline in yearly enrolment. In 2019-20, government schools registered a dropout number of nearly 30,000. While 20,87,363 students were enrolled for 2018-19, 20,58,109 were admitted in 2019-20.
This time, Nuh has recorded the highest number of new admissions at 21,000. It is followed by Faridabad (18,512), Hisar (17,263), Karnal (15,473), Bhiwani (14,133), and Gurugram (13,221) In terms of percentage increase, Faridabad has recorded the maximum rise in enrolment at 17%. It is followed by Charkhi Dadri (16%), Bhiwani (14%,), Panchkula (13%), Karnal (12.3%), and Hisar (12%). Gurugram has recorded an 11% increase in overall enrolment in government schools compared to last year.
As classes shifted to online mode and the lockdown resulted in reduced household income, the state government allowed schools to collect only tuition fees for all students. Parents of children studying in smaller private schools had wanted full or partial waiver of fees. Confusion on the matter stayed for months and multiple court orders were issued.
“Students of smaller private schools were largely excluded from the online education system due to lack of resources and trained teaching staff. On the other hand, many children from bigger private schools were blocked from attending online classes over the fee dispute. Hence, moving children to government schools was a viable option,” said Kailash Sharma, general secretary, Haryana Abhibhavak Ekta Manch, a parents’ body. While government school officials claim that distribution of free tablets among students and launch of English-medium institutions were some of the major reasons for the numbers to increase, the drive launched in May to find out-of-school children and enrol them in their nearest institutions also helped.
Some have, however, accused government schools of allowing new admissions without mandatory submission of School Leaving Certificates (SLCs). “They have flouted the SLC provision. As a result, parents found it a great opportunity to not clear dues and admit children to government schools. Maybe, next year, they will switch back to private schools,” said Kulbhushan Sharma, president, National Independent Schools Alliance, a body of parents whose children are in smaller private institutions.