GUWAHATI, 31st July (PTI) Assam has seen a steady increase in student enrollments in government schools over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly due to financial strains on families, Education Minister Ranoj Pegu said.
Although the pandemic has affected school education overall, the gradual improvement in the quality of teaching in state institutions has prompted many parents to enroll their children in such schools, the minister told PTI in an interview.
Pegu said: “We have seen an increase in government school enrollments during and after the pandemic. This is good news for us. This development can be attributed to many factors.” He explained that the financial impact of the pandemic has forced many parents to transfer their children from private to free state schools with high monthly fees.
“Another factor is a general improvement in the quality of education in state schools. We have taken various steps to improve quality over the past few years and the result is now showing,” said Pegu.
The minister said the Department of Education had compiled the enrollment numbers of all students in grades 1 to 12 and found that the total had increased despite fears of dropping out of school due to the impact of the pandemic.
According to official data, the total enrollment in all government, assisted and non-private schools across Assam has increased by over 63,000 in the 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic since September 2020.
The total number of students in state, subsidized, tea garden managed and venture schools (established by the people of a place) increased to 56,84,487 in November 2021 from 56,21,203 in September 2020.
Such a census is usually conducted in September each year, and the next survey will be conducted after two months this year, Pegu said.
Asked about the drop in the pass percentage on the Class 10 state council exam, the minister accepted that the result suggests many students have been deprived of formal education during the pandemic.
“This is a cause for concern for us. The pass rate has not improved this year compared to pre-pandemic years. We have held special support classes. However, we could not reach all schools and all students,” he said.
Pegu stated that the performance of the rural schools was declining compared to the urban ones because the online mode could not reach everyone.
“We were not prepared for this online teaching system. Many learning materials and teaching mechanisms have been developed over the past two years. Now we are prepared for any situation,” he said.
The 2022 pass rate for the Class 10 matriculation exam administered by the Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA) was 56.49 percent.
After the 2021 exams were canceled due to the pandemic, the results of the Class 10 State Council exams have been announced based on a scoring formula developed by a panel of experts.
The pass percentage had increased from 64.8 percent in 2020 to 93.1 percent last year. It was 60.23 percent in 2019 and 56.04 percent in 2018, according to the results announced by SEBA.
The largest increase in enrollments was seen in the elementary school, which includes grades 1 through 8, with 72,097 students admitted over the 15 months.
In September 2020 there were 44,92,085 primary school students in all non-private schools of Assam, which increased to 45,64,182 in November 2021.
Pupils from higher secondary schools with classes 11 and 12 also recorded an increase from 27,211 to 3,44,657 from 3,17,446 enrollments in the period under review.
The only segment that saw a drop in student enrollment was the secondary school, which consists of grades 9 and 10.
The total number of students in secondary schools fell by 36,024 in November last year to 7,75,648 from 8,11,672 students 15 months ago.
Taking different standards into account, grades 5, 6, 9 and 12 saw a drop in student enrollments, while the rest saw an increase in new students, the official data showed. PTI TR NN NN