Enrolment dip to go on, in keeping with fall in child population growth rate: NCERT study

Enrolment dip to go on, in keeping with fall in child population growth rate: NCERT study

School enrolment in primary classes — grades I-V — started declining in India in 2011, a trend which is set to continue until 2025, according to a “projection and trends” report prepared by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

The Council has attributed this dip in enrolment to a fall in growth rate of India’s child population.

Similarly, the upper primary (classes VI-VIII) and secondary stages (IX-X) started witnessing a decline in enrolment in 2016 and 2019, respectively, the report stat

The NCERT report had studied trends since 1950, when the country had 2,171 schools with 2.38 crore students.

While an overall growth of more than 900 per cent has been recorded in enrolment in the school system in classes I to X between 1950 and 2016, the share of girl students rose “precipitously” , registering an increase of over 1,000 per cent, according to the report.

Prepared by NCERT’s educational survey division, the report stated: “The growth in enrolment at the primary stage continued up to 2011. Since 2011, enrolment has been declining and it will continue till 2025. During the period from 2011 to 2025, total enrolment decreased about 14.37 per cent, of which boys’ enrolment decreased by 13.28 per cent and girls enrolment by 15.54 per cent.”

At the upper primary stage, the enrolment of boys, girls and the total started to decline from 2016. During the period, enrolment is projected to decrease by 9.47 per cent (in total) — 8.07 per cent among boys and 10.94 per cent among girls.

The report made it clear that enrolment is a function of population — thus, if population of an age group falls, enrolment will also decrease. Citing census data, it pointed out that between 1991 and 2011, the proportion of child population in the age group 0-6 years in the total population decreased from 18 per cent to 13.12 per cent.

“As a result, the gap between enrolment and population also decreased. The enrolment figure is also declining at each stage. The same reflection is seen in the study,” the report stated.

According to the researchers, it will help policymakers frame appropriate policies and programmes. “For example, the number of new schools to be opened or upgraded and the number of teachers required are decided on the basis of the number of children to be potentially enrolled in the system,” it stated. “Hence this study was proposed before NCERT’s Programme Advisory Committee…”

A look at the social categorisation of the numbers show that the dip in enrolment in the case of students from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe communities started in the 1990s. During 2011-2016, growth in SC and ST children’s enrolment at the primary stage slid to negative: -5.27 per cent and -12.20 per cent, respectively. “The decline pattern of enrolment of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe children is very similar to India’s enrolment (total) pattern,” the report stated.