The spread of ‘Covid-19’ has badly affected schools in Assam and other states of northeastern India, according to a report issued by the Union education ministry titled ‘Unified District Information System for Education Plus’ (UDISE+). . The report said more than 4,500 more schools in the state were closed in 2021-22 than last year.
“The decrease in the total number of schools is mainly due to the closure of schools under private management and others,” the report said.
While there were 1.509 million schools in the country in 2020-21, that number has decreased by 20,000 to 1.489 million schools in 2021-22. Of these, around 4,500 (more than 20%) were arrested in Assam.
Assam had 43,591 primary schools in 2020-21. A year later, that number dropped to 40,482. Also, the number of primary schools decreased from 11,789 to 10,672 during the same period.
Although Covid-19 has affected the education sector in 2020-21 as well, the impact is more on student enrollment, especially in elementary grades and special needs students, than school closures.
In 2020-21, the number of students in pre-primary classes decreased by 2.91 million, those in class 1 decreased by 1.88 million and the enrollment of students with special needs decreased by 80,000 compared to 2019-20.
Secondary schools saw a drop of 266 from 7556 in 2020-21 to 7,290 a year later. The only increase was seen in the number of secondary schools, from 2,267 in 2020-21 to 2,415 in 2021-22.
“While private schools may have closed due to losses and dropouts due to Covid-19, the decline in public schools can be attributed to a decision to consolidate some of the dysfunctional schools with others nearby. ,” said an education department official. hidden requirements.
In August this year, the government ordered the merger of 195 new state-owned schools and high schools. In the same month, 34 government schools that did not get any result in the class X board examination were decided to be closed and their students were sent to nearby schools.
Apart from the decrease in the number of schools, the total number of teachers working in schools in Assam has also decreased from 370,341 in 2020-21 to 352,944 in 2021-22, the UDISE+ report said.
Overall school enrollment in Assam also recorded a decline of 37,049 from 7,582,019 in 2020-21 to 7,544,960 in 2021-22. The number of new Class 1 admissions fell by 36,003 from 710,236 in 2020-21 to 674,233 in 2021-22.
Citing the latest UDISE+ report, Assam education minister Ranoj Pegu said earlier this month that the dropout rate in primary schools has almost doubled from 2020-21 to 2021-22 due to Covid-19.
“The increase in the dropout rate is a national phenomenon. Due to the spread of Covid-19, the entire education system, mostly basic education, has suffered a lot and caused school dropouts,” the minister told reporters this week.
While the primary school dropout rate was 3.3% in 2020-21, it increased to 6.02% in 2021-22. In middle schools, the dropout rate increased from 4.6% in 2020-21 to 8.8% in 2021-22. The total number of students who left the school was 129,543.
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Pegu added that the dropout rate could be on the high side as many fake students enrolled in government schools to get more grant money, daily meals, text books, uniforms and benefits. another is described as a permanent protection system. .
“Many schools have automatically entered inflated enrollment figures into the UDISE+ portal to avoid mergers or closures due to low enrollment. But once the information is cleared, we expect the situation to settle down soon,” said the minister.
The only silver lining was the drop in secondary school dropout percentage from 31% in 2020-21 to 20.3% in 2021-22.