Curious Case of Students Switching Over From Private to Govt Schools in 'Backward' Mewat
While data shared by the HRD ministry says more students are choosing private schools over the government ones, teachers in Mewat tell a completely different story.
Students in Mewat are leaving private schooling and switching over to government schools.
Mewat (Nuh): While most people strive to get their kids admitted in private schools, subedar Haji Noor-Ud-Din, after much deliberation, pulled his three granddaughters out of a private school three years ago and got them admitted to a government school in Haryana’s Biwan in Mewat.
The three girls are among several others in Mewat-- one of country’s most backward regions that ranks low on social indicators -- to have left private schooling and switched over to the government one.
The trend, observed by the teachers of Mewat, at first left people surprised. But the teachers have the tables ready and data on their fingertips to corroborate the observation on the shift towards government schooling.
Dedicated Staff, Improved Infrastructure
When News 18 visited Mewat, the locals cheered the initiatives taken by local government schools and pointed out how the progress of one government school is inspiring others in the area to upgrade infrastructure and build a stronger education system.
The teachers said that the government schools, which did not even have entry gates till about a decade ago, in 2018 delivered pass percentage of 97% in class 10 board results.
“The schools also got dedicated staff to use funds for improving the building. We got the gate, built a playground and improved the look of the building. All this attracted parents and students,” pointed out one of the teachers.
The teachers here work in competitive spirit as everyone wants to come up with progressive ideas to make constructive changes.
The money came through foundations and CSR initiatives, and all of it was used to make the schools attractive.
In Noor-Ud-Din’s opinion, children should be sent to those schools where they want to go. “The government schools have a dedicated staff that works to bring students to school premises, the walls have paintings and the lawns have grass. The school staff has controlled dropout rates and now you can see private school children migrating to government schools,” he said.
Noor-Ud-Din is happy with the decision he made for his granddaughters and has now started to promote government schooling by going door-to-door.
During a recent Parliament session, human resource development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ was asked if the quality of education in government schools is not up to the mark, as a result of which, the parents are forced to send their children to private schools.
While the numbers provided painted a sorry picture for the government schools across the country, the trend in Mewat is turning out to be an exception as the number of students switching to government schools is increasing by the day.
Basruddin Khan, who won the National Award for Teachers last year, said, “The government gives us Rs 90,000 and private schools do not get that much funds. It will be an insult to not make use of the money and see students preferring private over government schools.”
Basruddin said that the number of students opting for government schools is growing since 2013. “Every year we get students from private schools. Since 2016, we have seen a steady increase in the number. Today, we have 65 children coming from private schools to the school in Tapkan, where I teach.”
In 2014-2015, there was an increase in enrollment of students by 208, he said. “The number keeps improving. In 2017-18, my school in Tapkan had 272 more students joining. We can’t have the change without the students coming in from private schools.”
Hamid Hussein, another teacher in a government school in Biwan, said that story is the same in other villages like Sonkh and Rehna. “There are 27 children from private schools in Biwan, 30 from Sonkh and 6 from Rehna. The number has been increasing since the past three years,” said Hussein.
Basruddin said, “The total strength of school has grown and it cannot happen without the migration from private to government schools. Earlier, we had children coming in from one village but now we have students coming from 15 other gram sabhas.”
The government reports in the past have showed the deplorable condition of Mewat. “A closer look at the secondary data on education infrastructure available for Mewat presents a deplorable situation of current education system which hasn’t really shown remarkable improvements since 2001,” said a Niti Aayog study.
“Mewat district has witnessed an increase in literacy level from 43.5% in 2001 to 54.1% in 2011. In spite of this increase, literacy levels are way below the status in Haryana and national standards,” another study pointed out.
Competition is the Key
Basruddin said that in the meetings of the Cluster Resource Centres (CRCs), which were established in under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to conduct in-service teacher training, experts come out with ideas that inspires others to replicate.
“There is competitive spirit among the schools in the cluster. One wants to be better than the other. We have a good infrastructure and others might want to compete and do better. The good buildings attract students,” said Basruddin.
One major problem that these schools face is shortage of teachers. “There is a shortage of six teachers in one school and three in another, so we look out in other schools from where we can borrow and grow,” said Hussain, adding that the teachers who teach in more than school are referred to as ‘sitara’.
The New Education Policy 2019 headed by K Kasturirangan has also recommended a system wherein resources can be pooled between schools to deal with the crunch in infrastructure, teachers etc. The backward Mewat has certainly the advice and is determined to improve students’ lives.
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