Fall in enrolment in Punjab rural schools, AAP concerned

Chandigarh, Feb 14 (IANS) The AAP on Tuesday expressed concern over a sharp “decline” in the enrolment of students in government schools in rural areas of Punjab and the simultaneous rise in admission in private schools.

Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann said the Shiromai Akali Dal-BJP government in Punjab had made tall claims of reforms in the educational system but the ground reality was different.

“The ground realities were totally opposite of what Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema claimed during elections. Most of the private schools opened during the last five years of SAD-BJP rule,” Mann said.

Mann said a report prepared by Mumbai-based NGO ‘Pratham’ said the number of students studying in private schools was more than in government schools.

He said the SAD-BJP government had deliberately shut down government schools in villages on the pretext of introducing a cluster system.

Under the cluster system, the government shifted students where the number of students were less than 20 to other schools within five kilometers radius.

Mann said this was aimed at helping private schools to fill the gap.

The AAP leader also said that 51.6 per cent of students from rural areas were enrolled in private schools against 45.5 per cent in 2014.

The standard of education in government schools had declined gradually and, as per the report, only 35.4 per cent students studying in Class V in government schools can understand English compared to 83.2 per cent in private schools, Mann said quoting the report.

The dropout rate in government schools after Class 10 was above 70 per cent and only 5 per cent students went beyond higher secondary education, he said.

Mann said that as per the report, 19 per cent of schools don’t have drinking water and 21 per cent schools lacked toilets. About 24 per cent schools were without toilets for girls.

Mann said the AAP government in Delhi had provided education and health services of international standard and this would be done in Punjab if the AAP formed a government.