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Govt School Admissions Rise as Lockdown Forces Migrant Workers to Return Home amid Financial Stress

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Throughout April and May, Bengaluru has seen a large number of migrant workers move back to their hometowns after losing jobs or suffering financial loss. Many are transferring their children to government schools or to less expensive private schools. The lockdown delayed school admissions this year, but enrolments are now underway.

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Revathi Rajeevan

An unusual number of parents are frequenting the Maragowdanalli government school in Karnataka's Mandya district. Parents of children who returned to their home towns and villages during the lockdown are flocking to enrol their children in government schools back home.

Asha, a mother of two who had to return to Mandya from Bengaluru, was present at the school to admit her children at the school. The wife of a barber, she said that finding work was difficult during the pandemic. "Moreover, my husband met with an accident, too. It became difficult to keep the children in private schools. We paid Rs 25,000 in fees last year," she said. She added that her daughter, now in the ninth standard, has joined the government school.

The Maragowdanalli government high school's strength is currently 505, up from 437 last year.

Headmaster Devaraju said that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused large numbers of students to enrol in the school this year. "Many parents who were working in Bengaluru and other cities gave come back to the villages. Many as facing financial problems, which is why they have chosen to admit their children in government schools," he said.

Throughout April and May, Bengaluru has seen a large number of migrant workers move back to their hometowns after losing jobs or suffering financial loss. Many are transferring their children to government schools or to less expensive private schools. The lockdown delayed school admissions this year, but enrolments are now underway.

Around 95 lakh students have enrolled in schools across the state so far. Of this, 42.5 lakhs are in government schools. Last year, there were over 45 lakh children in government schools out of a total 1.05 crore. "Once the admission process is complete across the state, this year's number could exceed last year's. That's the hope," said a source in the Education department.

Karnataka Primary and Secondary minister Suresh Kumar said that since a large number of children were moving from private schools to government schools, the time was right for the government to improve the quality of state-run schools and make them attractive to parents of students.

"I have my own calculation. An ordinary person sends their kids to private schools because there is some glamour. He will spend at least 40 percent of his income on these schools. If these children study in government schools instead, the man can spend more on his family. There is a sentiment that there will be a surge in government school admissions," Suresh Kumar said.

These numbers are encouraging for government schools that usually see a dip. Some, in fact, were on the verge of closure, but are seeing a revival now. These schools, with their guaranteed midday meals are the only stable option for lakhs of children.


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