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32,000 schools don't have a single student in India

NEW DELHI, Aug 9 - At a time when the county is facing a shortage of educational institutions, over 32,000 schools do not have a single student, a government survey has revealed.

These institutions, 48 per cent of which are primary schools, are located mostly in rural areas and are in the public sector, said the report 'Elementary Education in India 2005-06' prepared by National University of Educational Planning and Administration (Nuepa).

The survey, which covered 11,24,033 schools in 35 states and union territories, found that 2.92 per cent of these schools had zero enrolment. Karnataka had the highest number of such schools, standing at 7,945.

While 15,791 were primary schools, the rest were upper primary, secondary and higher secondary schools, the report said.

Similarly, 69,353 schools or 6.17 per cent of the total number of schools have less than 25 students. There were 1,70,888 schools having between 26 and 50 students, the study found.

The percentage of schools with low enrolment was less in Bihar, Delhi, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, it said. All the schools together have an average enrolment of 150.

"The main reasons for zero enrolment is that these schools either don't have a single teacher or they may be having para-teachers," Sailendra Sharma, a lecturer of Nuepa who was associated with the survey said. The report found that about 23,000 schools were yet to be provided with a teacher, while 1,03,000 schools were single-teacher schools.

Sharma said, "In some areas, migration of people continues because of climatic conditions or some other factors and this accounts for low enrolment or zero enrolment of students."

He gave the example of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, where people tend to migrate from some areas due to adverse climatic conditions in winter. "In view of such schools being in large numbers, there is a need to thoroughly probe the reasons for zero enrolment," the report said. The factors responsible for meagre enrolment include poor infrastructure in the schools.

As many as 1,02,227 schools - or 9.54 per cent of the total schools imparting elementary education - had only one classroom, the report said. "We suggested that the directors of state education departments should take steps to equip schools with basic infrastructure and adequate teachers to attract more students and increase the enrolment," Sharma said. Khaleej Times
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