Economic Survey 2022: Need to strengthen government schools to handle increased enrolment

The Economic Survey, presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also pointed to the lack of official data on school education during COVID-19.

Nirmala Sitharaman, presented the economic survey 2022 on the first day of the Budget Session 2022.  (Picture source: Shutterstock)Nirmala Sitharaman, presented the economic survey 2022 on the first day of the Budget Session 2022. (Picture source: Shutterstock)

R. Radhika | January 31, 2022 | 04:51 PM IST

NEW DELHI: With the continuous rise in the number of children shifting from private to government schools, the Centre will need to strengthen infrastructure and teachers, said the Economic Survey 2022.

Presented by the finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, the economic survey 2022 highlighted the mass exodus of students towards government schools. To prepare government schools to absorb these migrating students, the government will need to equip government schools with additional support, in terms of teacher-pupil ratio, classroom space, and teaching and learning materials, the survey stated.

Quoting the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2021, the economic survey said “disproportionately high fees, shut down of low-cost private schools, financial distress of parents, free facilities in government schools and families migrating back to villages” as the possible reasons for this shift. "In July 2020, the government has issued guidelines for mainstreaming of children of migrant labourers, allowing for their smooth admissions into schools without asking for any documents other than identity,” the survey said.

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The survey further noted that the “real-time impact of repeated lockdown on education” could not be accurately gauged due to the lack of necessary data. “Since the data from the Ministry of Education is only available up to 2019-20, the impact of the pandemic on enrolment and dropout rates during pandemic years, 2020 and 2021, could not be assessed through comprehensive official data,” it said. The survey, however, pointed out that the dropout declined and the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) improved at all levels in 2019-20. The economic survey highlights were tabled on the first day of Budget session 2022. The finance minister will present the Union Budget 2022 on February 1.

School dropout, enrollment, books

The survey also pointed towards the high drop-out rate included in the finding of the ASER survey. “ASER (Rural) report also found that during the pandemic, children (age 6-14 years) ‘not currently enrolled in schools’ increased from 2.5 percent in 2018 to 4.6 percent in 2021,” it said. The decline in enrollment was relatively high in younger age groups between seven and 10, especially among boys more than girls.

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In the absence of “consolidated official data”, the government of India has tried to address the concern raised through private studies undertaken during the pandemic period. Even though the availability of smartphones has increased from 36.5% in 2018 to 67.6 % in 2021, the ASER report states that students in lower grade found it difficult to do online activities compared to higher grade students.

economic survey pdf, economic survey highlights. union budget 2022, budget 2022, nirmala sitharaman, school dropout, education budget. economic survey 2022 pdf FM Nirmala Sitharaman also pointed to the lack of official data on school education during COVID-19.

The survey also found that government schools were much better at ensuring that students had textbooks of their current grade compared to private schools. The survey observed that 91.9 percent of all school children have textbooks for their current grades. “This proportion has increased over the last year, for children enrolled in both government and private schools,” the survey stated adding, “Also, 46.4 percent children in reopened schools received learning materials and activities as compared to 39.8 percent children whose schools had not reopened.”

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Higher education

The Economic Survey further states introduction of multiple initiatives like “amendment to National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS), Academic Bank of Credit, e PGPathshala, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan and scholarship for weaker sections” has revolutionised the higher education landscape.

The NATS initiative has been extended for the next five years with an outlay of 3,054 crore which will make, through apprenticeship, around 9 lakh students employable, the survey said. Under e-PG Pathshala, so far 154 universities have come on board for accepting credit transfers for courses offered through the SWAYAM platform.

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According to the economic survey 2022, the union government allocated 3.1 percent of the total GDP to education, up from 2.8 percent in 2019-20. The centre had allocated Rs 6.97 lakh crore to the social service expenditure related to education, the survey showed. Over time, academics, education activists have urged the government to spend at least 6 percent of total GDP on education.

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