Lack of quality education and infrastructure among many other reasons responsible for the decline.

SRINAGAR — After a two percent drop in enrollment at the primary level in government schools this year, the Directorate of School Education has launched an enrollment drive as an effort to convince the parents to send their kids to government schools. The Director of School Education, Tassaduq Hussain, led the campaign from November 10-15.

Teachers went door to door in groups of two or three to persuade parents to send their children to government-run schools. Rallies showcasing the services provided by the government schools were part of the campaign.

Mymoona Qadir, the headmistress of Govt High School Delina in the Baramulla district of north Kashmir, led a march with teachers and students in the school’s catchment area. The teachers marched in the villages, handing out leaflets, putting up posters, and speaking with community elders.

“We requested the elders to make announcements about enrollment in the Masjid during Friday prayers and also appealed to the parents to send their children to government schools,” said a teacher.

According to the Department of School Education and Literacy (DSEL), Government of India, the number of enrollments in government schools decreased by 1.75 lakh students in a year across the country.

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Many parents that the Mountain Ink spoke to talked about the lack of infrastructure and the quality of education in government-run schools. The parents said that running campaigns will not suffice till the government works on the quality of education and infrastructure.

Abdul Rashid Ganai, Principal Govt Higher Secondary Delina, said the enrollment drive alone is not enough to bring students to government schools. He said the government must focus on providing quality education and infrastructure to convince the parents to send their children to government schools.

Speaking about the decrease in government school enrollments, Rashid said the reason behind it is the lack of accountability, quality education and infrastructure. 

He said that the enrollment will help in increasing the roll of the students, but what’s the point if there’s no infrastructure, or effective teaching and learning process. The students will go back to private schools, Rashid said.

At the launch of the enrollment drive, Tassaduq said that govt schools don’t lack infrastructure, “this is a misconception” as the schools run by the directorate have the best infrastructure in the entire country.           

“Parents do not trust government schools anymore as we have failed to provide the quality of education and facilities their kids get at private schools,” Yasmeena, headteacher, government middle school Delina, said.

Parents who do not afford private schools, compromise to send their kids to government schools, she said.

Even if the government schools manage to fix the infrastructure, the schools lack the appropriate staff to take care of the property leading to the vandalization of the schools by nefarious elements. “Many times goons and drug addicts break into the schools and vandalise the property as government schools lack the manpower to take care of the schools,” she said.

Qazi Sajad, a government teacher said that the parents who get their kids enrolled in government schools don’t pay attention to their kids. “They don’t come to school to make teachers accountable. Since they don’t have to pay anything, they make zero effort,” he said.

According to DSEK, the number of government schools in the Kashmir division is 11633, consisting of 2876 EGS (Education Guarantee Scheme) Centres, 5547 Primary Schools, 2379 Middle Schools, 525 High Schools and 248 Higher Secondary Schools and the number of private schools is 2269 out of which 1175 are primary Schools, 810 Middle Schools, 247 High Schools and 37 Higher Secondary schools.



“We got around 15 new admissions because of the enrollment drive but the reason parents send their kids to school is free meals and there is zero motivation towards studies,” said another teacher from Bandipora.

No matter the amount of effort we make but as long as the parents don’t make any efforts, we can’t do any better, she added.

Teachers are hopeful that the drive and the recently announced National Education Policy 2020 will bring changes to the system.

The NEP 2020 document focuses on strengthening the use of technology and increasing focus on vocational and adult education. The policy document emphasizes the need for practical-based classes through virtual laboratories to ensure remote access to laboratories in various disciplines. It recommends learning in three languages and does not compulsorily prescribe Hindi. The three languages referred to are Hindi, English and the regional language of the respective States.

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