It is a well known fact and a trend that is being seen over a period of time now that parents in India want to send their children to private schools instead of sending them to government schools because of the poor quality of education, inadequate infrastructure and lack of specialized teachers.
According to a study, ”A Private schooling phenomenon in India: A review” by Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, professor of Education at University of London, about 49 per cent of children in urban India under the age group of 6 to 10 were studying in private schools.
Government Urdu Medium schools in Basavana Bagewadi Taluk in Vijayapura district has been hit with the alarming growth of private schools. Three Urdu medium schools had shut down in the Taluk in 2017. However, the problem of Urdu medium schools shutting down is not unique to Basavana Bagewadi itself. In 2017, Maharashtra government decided to close 4093 primary and secondary schools in the state which had 10 or less students. The state government decided to shift students of 175 low-enrollment Urdu medium schools to Marathi medium schools which are comparatively better off in the state.
Student enrollment in Government schools reduced by 5,80,678 from 2010-2011 to 2015-2016 in Karnataka; whereas the enrollment in private schools increased by 6,78,990 during the same period in Karnataka.
The reasons for shutting down of Urdu medium schools are varied. Poor infrastructure, untimely availability of books and excessive burden of maintaining records of government schemes for government schools that falls on the shoulders of teachers, also contributes to the shift of students to private schools that stresses on their holistic development.
National Sample Survey Organization indicates 58.7 per cent rural population preferred private schools at primary level as against 52.2 per cent urban population. Also 22.4 per cent rural population opted out of government schools stating “quality of education as unsatisfactory in government schools,” as against 18.6 per cent urban population who chose private schools for the same reason in 2016.
Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016 states private schools grew by 35 per cent in 2010-2011 to 2015-2016 i.e. from 0.22 million to 0.3 million. However, the government schools grew by 1 per cent during the same time span.
Indian education sphere is not limited to private and government schools. A large part of it also constitutes private coaching centers which are also increasing alarmingly. As per the data provided by National Sample Survey Organization 75 per cent of students in India avail private coaching which also indicates the deteriorating system of education in India at primary and secondary levels.
The opening of more and more private schools is a major reason for shutting down of government schools in India. Most importantly when we talk about the vernacular government schools and their dwindling population, it is feared only countable number of vernacular schools will remain.
If government Urdu medium schools are taken into consideration, their closure will mean the end of education for girls of Muslim community residing in rural parts of Karnataka which will directly lead to early marriages in the community.
Educationists say education at higher levels can only be improved by improving the foundation or the primary education. The government should be more aware of their responsibility towards vernacular schools and shouldn’t overburden teachers with work. The only solution which can be achieved today is to conduct more awareness camps for parents and students in rural and urban India.