Sunday, April 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Private schools getting popular in rural Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
People seem to have started preferring private schools being set up in the unorganised sector in the countryside in Punjab, according to the finding of an “economic survey” conducted in the state.

The enrolment of students in government and private affiliated and recognised schools declined to 39.22 lakh in 2001 from 39.48 lakh in the previous year. This trend has been noticed since 1999 when the enrolment in such schools was near 39.61 lakh.

No exact data are available regarding the enrolment of students in private schools which are being opened in the unorganised sector. Most of these schools function up to the elementary level, especially in rural areas.

The trend also reveals a steady collapse of the government school system in the remote areas such as the border and Malwa belts. Over the years, the government has failed to streamline the education system. Even today, as many as 12,000 posts of teacher are vacant in the state. While a substantial number of government schools in urban areas are overstaffed, the strength of teachers in certain rural areas is woefully inadequate. A large number of posts of school head are vacant.

The medical, non-medical and commerce streams are almost non-functional in plus 2 schools in rural areas. Because of this, more and more students from rural areas are shifting to urban areas for quality education.

Absentism of teachers from schools, especially in remote areas, has been a major factor to make people put their wards in private schools.

But an encouraging feature is that enrolment of students belonging to the Scheduled Castes is showing a rising trend in all age groups. Even in the case of Scheduled Caste girls, a rising trend has been noticed. There is a decline, though very small, in the drop rate at the primary and high school levels. It was 22.96 per cent in 1996-97 but has come down to 20.33 per cent in 2000-01. But at the middle school level, it has increased from 33.40 per cent to 33.99 per cent. Even the enrolment in colleges has increased from 2.62 lakh to 2.71 lakh.

The literacy rate in the state is steadily improving. Of the total population, nearly 70 per cent were literate in the state in 2001, while the figure was 58.51 per cent in 1991. The literacy rate in urban areas has touched 79.13 per cent against the 65.11 per in the rural areas. However, there is significant difference between the male and female literacy rates. The female literacy rate is 63.55 per cent and male literacy rate is 75.63 per cent.

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