Although the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the students’, an official data released said that the total number of students in all government, aided and non-private schools across Assam have increased by over 63,000 during the 15-month period since September 2020.
The state Education department has recently collated the enrolment figures of all students from Classes I to XII and found that the total number of students have increased despite apprehensions of dropout due to the COVID-19 impact.
According to a datasheet, which is available with PTI, the grand total of students in government, aided, tea garden managed and venture (established by the people of a locality) schools have increased to 56,84,487 in November 2021 from 56,21,203 in September 2020.
The figures showed an increase of 63,284 students, registering a growth of 1.13 per cent in total enrolments. Out of this, the highest rise has been witnessed in the elementary section, comprising Classes I to VIII, with 72,097 more enrolments in the 15-month period. There were 44,92,085 students in the elementary section of all the non-private schools of Assam in September 2020, which increased to 45,64,182 in November 2021, the data released by the department said.
The students in higher secondary schools, having Classes XI and XII, also saw a growth of 27,211 enrolments to 3,44,657 from 3,17,446 during the period under consideration. The only segment that witnessed a decline in the number of students was secondary, which consists of Classes IX and X. The total number of students in the secondary sections decreased by 36,024 to 7,75,648 in November last year from 8,11,672 students in September 2020, the PTI report said.
Considering different standards, Classes V, VI, IX and XII recorded falls in student enrolments, while the rest saw an increase in new pupils, official data showed. When contacted, Asom Sarba Siksha Abhiyan's Mission Director Roshni Aparanji Korati told PTI that various initiatives were taken by the government to increase the enrolment rate -- giving admission to new students as well as bringing back the dropped out kids.
"We carried out an extensive enrollment drive, which showed positive results. Other steps such as hostel facilities in schools, free uniform and books, nutritious meals at elementary level, scholarships, mentoring of students and engaging qualified teachers also helped," she added.
Korati said the government strengthened the attendance monitoring system for both students and teachers, as well as formed local resource groups to help maintain the quality in the schools.
"We involved various NGOs and constantly worked on creating awareness among parents, guardians and communities to send their children to schools. During the pandemic, we also changed the school timings as per the children's convenience," she said.
A social worker, who works closely with the government in the children's education sector, said that many low-income parents shifted their kids to the government schools from the private ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"These low-income households got shattered due to the pandemic. Many of them could not afford to pay the high fees of private schools. That is also a big reason for more enrolments in government schools," he said, without wanting to be named.