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Data: ‘Quality of Education’ is the prime reason behind students opting for Private educational institutions


The 75th round of the NSS focused on education related indicators. The survey report which was released recently indicated that more than 60% of the students are still studying in government educational institutions. However, this number is coming down. The survey also indicates that more than 30% of those opting for private education do so for ‘quality of education’.

The National Statistical Office under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) recently released the report on Household Consumption on Education in India. The report is an outcome of the 75th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) conducted between July 2017 and June 2018. The survey gives primary data on different indicators relating to education such as level of education, attendance incentives received by students, and expenditure on education which helps in planning, decision making, policy formulation, and analysis.

For the 75th round of the survey, a sample of 64,519 rural households from 8,097 villages and 49,23 urban households from 6,188 blocks were covered across India. The survey gives both qualitative and quantitative information, covering students falling in the age bracket of three to thirty-five years who attend educational institutions at different levels from pre-primary to graduate level and beyond.

Around 3 students out of 5 students in classes I to XII, attended government schools

On the basis of management, three types of institutions have been considered- government, private aided, and private unaided. The report revealed that, except at the pre-primary level of education, majority of the students who were undergoing formal education attended government run educational institutions. At the pre-primary level, about 55% of the students went to private unaided institutions while less than one-third attended government institutions. 

At least 60% of the students in classes I to XII went to government schools as per the NSS DATA. At the same time, as per UDISE’s data, there are 10.83 Lakh government schools in India, accounting for 70% of the schools in the country. Around 21% are private and about 5% are private aided schools. 

At the ‘diploma or certificate below graduate level’, the percentage of students going to private unaided institutions was more than 30%. 

Greater share of students in rural areas went to government educational institutions

A greater share of students in the rural parts of the country went to government run educational institutions as compared to their urban counterparts. According to the survey, 44.2% of the students at pre-primary level, 73.7% at primary level, 76.1% at upper primary/middle level, 68% at secondary & higher secondary level and 49.7% at graduate and above level went to government-run institutions in the rural areas. At the same time, only 13.9% at pre-primary level, 30.9% at primary level, 38% at upper primary level, 38.9% at secondary and higher secondary levels, and 41% at graduate and above levels went to government run institutions in the urban areas. 

Students attending government institutions has dropped over the last ten years

Compared to the earlier rounds of the survey (71st round in 2014), there has been a drastic fall in the proportion of students at primary, upper primary, and secondary and higher secondary levels attending government schools in urban areas. At the primary level, it fell from 39.6% attending government schools in 2007-08 to 30.9% in 2017-18. Similarly, the percentage has dropped from 44.2% to 38% at upper primary level and 45.2% to 38.9% at secondary and higher secondary level in urban India.

The survey also estimated that around 36.4 lakh students had shifted from government to private institutions in the past one year while 32.4 lakh shifted from private to government institutions. Students, who at the time of survey attended private institutions- both aided and unaided, were asked the reason behind opting for the same instead of government institution. 

Quality of education was the most popular reason for choosing private institutions 

It is observed that quality of education was cited as the reason by most students for opting private institutions. This reason was cited by more than 38% of the students in rural areas and nearly 30% in urban areas. It was perceived by majority that the quality of education was better in private institutions and unsatisfactory in nearby government institutions. Location of the institution closer home was the reason given by more than 28% of female students in urban areas. Around 15% in rural areas and 19% in urban areas also cited English medium as the reason for choosing private institutions.

Availability of facilities such as AC classrooms, latest teaching aids, boarding and transportation facilities, laboratory, library, timings, extracurricular activities, and separate toilets for girls and boys was reported by over 15% students in urban areas. 

Availability of facilities is better in aided schools than in government schools

Other reasons reported include social reasons such as relatives/friends studying in private school, lack of admission to government school, and private coaching. For instance, at the school level, only 95% of government schools have a separate washroom for girls. Only 62% of the government schools have libraries and 58% of the schools have playgrounds. Meanwhile, in aided schools, 97% have girls’ toilets, 65% have libraries, and 82% have playgrounds. It should be remembered that the survey included students from different levels of education, not only at the school level, which may have influenced the reasons. 

Nonetheless, state wise differences also exist. In Bihar, more than 82% of the students go to government schools whereas in Uttar Pradesh, about 46% students went to private schools, as noted in the survey. 

In classes XI and XII, there has been a shift towards English medium

The medium of instruction and language spoken at home for students across different levels of education has been studied in the report. The medium of instruction is the language of the study material like books and notes used in schools. Percentage of students whose medium of instruction was same as the language spoken at home was higher in primary, upper primary, and secondary level. It can be seen that there is a shift towards English at the higher secondary level, except in the case of Bengali. The overall percentage of those learning and speaking in Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Punjabi, and Kannada is lower than other languages like Hindi, Bengali and Odia.  In other words, of those who speak the respective languages of Hindi, Bengali & Odia, a greater share of students are learning in the same language than in English

For the rest of the languages mentioned above like Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Punjabi, and Kannada, a greater share of students went to English medium schools than the schools with local language as medium of instruction. Interestingly, at the pre-primary level as well, English medium was more common contrary to the common belief that education begins in the language spoken. 

Around 60 to 80% of the students in government schools’ avail free education

Free education is when students do not any fee for their education. The proportion of students receiving free education is substantially higher in government educational institutions than in private aided and unaided institutions. Both in rural areas as well as urban areas, less than 10% of the students in private institutions got free education while in government schools, the percentage of students was in the range of 60-80% which may be attributed to the various welfare programs of the government. Similarly, education schemes for the girl child providing free education could also be the reason behind the overall trend. In rural areas, the percentage of female students who received free education was higher than male students. 

Improving quality of education in the Government schools is the need of the hour

The survey once again highlights the need for improving quality of education in government schools since a large number of students still enrol in these schools and a substantial number are shifting to private schools because of this very reason. 

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A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.

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