BHUBANESWAR: Private schools are drawing more and more students in the KBK districts than the government institutions. This despite tall claims by the Odisha Government of all-round development, including broad-basing education in the backward region.
According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, student enrolment in private schools has doubled in the last five years in the KBK zone.
In 2014, at least 6.92 per cent children (in the age group of 6 to 14 years) were enrolled in private schools in Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Malkangiri, Ganjam and Gajapati districts. In 2010, enrolment rate in these districts was just 3.49 per cent.
Much of the jump has taken place in the last few years. In 2013, the enrolment rate was just 3.85 per cent, which shot up to 6.92 per cent last year indicating the rate at which private schools in KBK districts are eating into government space and even catching up with the economically sound coastal and central districts, which reported a 9.47 per cent enrolment rate. The enrolment in private school in the State stands at 8.53 per cent.
Thanks to the rising enrolment, the overall share of children in private schools is rising in these districts which are dubbed “educationally backward.” If Khurda boasts of 17.2 per cent children in the age-group of 6 to 14 years in private schools, in Nuapada, the figure is 10.7 per cent. Ganjam, Gajapati and Kalahandi have more than 9 per cent children enrolled in private schools although Malkangiri, Koraput and Nabarangpur have just over 2 per cent children in such schools.
The ASER 2014, which maps academic efficiency of the students, shows that reading levels of students in private schools is markedly higher than their government counterparts. If 82.4 per cent students in Standard-II in government schools can at least read letters, in private schools, the figure is much higher at 96.2 per cent. The same holds for students in Standard IV level.
The arithmetic ability of students in government schools too falls short of their private counterparts. If 83.5 per cent students in Standard II can recognise numbers from 1 to 9 in government schools, over 95 per cent students of private schools can do the same.
When government school students go to higher classes, this ability drops sharply and the gap between them and their private counterparts rises by almost 100 per cent. The ASER report found that just about 35.7 per cent Standard IV students in government schools can do subtraction. In private schools, the figure is 70.5 per cent.
Though private school enrolment has shown a rise in Odisha, the State remains in the bottom pool in the entire country. West Bengal and Tripura are the other two States where the overall enrolment in private schools in rural areas is below 9 per cent.