A statement by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) announced that the Chief Minister’s efforts in the sector of educational had made 2.68 lakh students opt for government schools over private institutions. “A total of 42.46 lakh students have enrolled themselves in government and government aided schools this year, which is 2.68 lakh more than the enrolment figure from 2019, which stood at 39.78 lakh,” said an official statement from the CMO.
As per the government, the shift is solely because of the current government’s schemes like Amma Vodi and Nadu-Nedu and Vidya Kanuka. The government blamed the previous government for lapses in the education sector.
Under the Amma Vodi scheme, eligible mothers of students from classes 1 to 12 receive Rs. 15,000 as a financial incentive ever year. As part of Nadu-Nedu, the state government is renovating over 45,000 schools in an effort to provide better facilities to government schools students. However, Vidya Kanuka is nothing new but a mere tactic to propagate an existing move by the government with the party in power’s branding. In October, AP Truth had published revealing facts about the Vidya Kanuka scheme.
Interestingly, the education sector is not free from its problems of its own under the YSRCP government. Since the reopening of schools in Andhra Pradesh, numerous students and teachers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Further, the Government Degree Colleges Gazetted Teachers Association (GCGTA-AP) and the Government Colleges Teachers Association (GCTA), the prime frontal organisations formed a Joint Action Committee (JAC) to protest against inaction on their transfers. Not only this, but the long standing issue of private teachers’ salaries since lockdown is something that makes us question the government’s claims that say all is well in AP.
Perhaps because of the lack of availability of data, the government’s statement omits mention of enrolment drop or rise in private institutions. Therefore, these numbers must be read with a pinch of salt. A real possibility that shutdown of certain private schools or withdrawal of students due to teacher absence or high fees might turn out to be the primary reason that makes this sudden shift logical. Not only this but the fact that schemes like Amma Vodi, had excluded many beneficiaries citing the non-coverage of private schools might be another reason that could have compelled parents to opt for a transfer merely for financial gains.
On the whole, the numbers are not evidence of quality improvement at government institutions. It is possible that if one looks deeper, a dire necessity or compulsion might lie behind these numbers.