A story told by a government school headmistress in Kochi, a decade and half ago, comes to mind, as we see a rush to enroll students in government schools year after year. In early 2000s, government schools saw an exodus of students to private schools. Though private schools were expensive, parents preferred them citing lack of facilities and English education in government schools.
Many a government school had a strength of less than 100 and would fall into the “uneconomic list”. This meant there was always a threat of the school being closed down. The teachers had to go canvassing from home to home to ensure that they got the requisite number students to keep the school viable. According to the headmistress, she had managed to collect around 100 students to escape being on the list. But on the day of verification by government officials the student strength in the school fell below 80. The school nearby had lured the students over for the day. This scramble for students to keep a school going is no longer the case today.
In the recent past there has been a reverse flow of students from private schools to Kerala’s government schools. The trend in the education sector in the state has seen government schools attract more students. Initiatives to develop schools in tune with modern changes in education such as smart classrooms, infrastructure, English lessons, have restored parents’ confidence in government schools, once branded as “substandard institutions”. As a result, a total of 1.86 lakh new students registered in government schools and government-aided schools in the academic year 2018-19.