Public spending on elementary education is seeing a rise in Himachal but the poor quality of education being imparted in government schools has led to a large scale migration towards private schools, where enrollment from 2003 to 2016 has increased four fold and admission in government primary schools is falling dramatically.
The district information system for education report for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has registered that in the academic year 2015-16 enrollment in government primary schools was 3.23 lakh students which had dropped from 5.89 lakhs recorded in 2003-04 where in private schools the enrollment had increased from a mere 77,000 in 2003-04 to 2.57 lakhs in 2015-16.
In percentage terms in 2003-04, government primary school enrollment was 89% and that in private schools was just 11% but in 2015-16 it had come down to 55% in government schools and had increased more than four times to 45 % in private schools.
In the recently concluded budget session of the Vidhan Sabha, chief minister Virbhadra Singh cited easy availability of private schools, improvement of living standards and a drop in fertility rates as reasons for declining trends in enrolment in government primary schools.
The report also make projects that if the trends continue, enrolment in government primary schools could touch a low of 2.36 lakh students (41%) by 2021-22 and that in private schools are expected to touch a high of 3.42 lakhs students (59%).
Virbhadra Singh who is also the state finance minister in his March 2016 budget speech stated that more than a 1,000 government schools were opened or upgraded in the preceding financial year. Salary of Gram Vidya Upasaks, who are employed to teach primary level students in villages, which was Rs 3,500 per month early was being doubled to Rs 7,000/- from the current financial year, said the chief minister.
Catering to a total student strength of 14,44,260 students both at the elementary level (up to 8th Class) and senior secondary level (Ten + 2 Class) there were 18,039 schools in Himachal Pradesh in 2015-16 of which about 85 % (15, 327) schools were government institutions and the remaining 2712 schools were private institutions but the government schools had only a 65% (9,31,187) students strength share and the private schools students strength which constitute only 15% of the total institutions at 5,13,073 students was 35 % of the total school students in the academic year 2015-16.
Interestingly in 2003-04 there were only about a 1000 private schools which has increased to 2712 in 2015-16.
A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit of the education department has revealed that poor quality of education with shortage of teaching staff in government schools was the primary reason for drop in enrolment in publically funded schools, which was causing a migration towards private school education in the state.