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Class I admission: Last year’s official figure a blown-up version

Implementation, Reservation of seats, Right to Education

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While the official figure on students joining class I in state-syllabus schools show a decline in numbers, a reality check raises doubts about this head count.

The difference between the number of kids who joined class I last year and this year is being cited to claim that the number of students joining state-syllabus schools is on the decline.

But, interestingly, it has evolved that the official figure on the number of students who had joined class I last year had been blown up. The number of students in class II this year is only 3,10,081 — 13,291 less than the number of students who had enrolled last year in class I.

There is very little chance of so many students dropping out of school in the first year. The average dropout rate in primary school students in Kerala, according to the latest Economic Review, is only 0.38%.

“Last year’s figure could have been blown up to prevent issues arising out of less number of students enrolling in class I. But the Right to Education Act, which is being implemented from this year, is strict on the count while taking care of all the issues that might arise in case the number of students falls,” said director of public instructions A Shajahan.

The number of children who joined class I this year, according to the count taken last Thursday, was 3,02,147. Compared to last year’s figure of 3,23,372, this is 21,225 less.

“The teachers’ package implemented as part of the RTE Act will see to it that from this year the numbers are not blown up, as teachers will no more lose their postings if lesser number of students enroll,” said P Hari Govindan, state president, Kerala Primary and Secondary Teachers’ Union.

Also, the Unique Identity Number, which is being issued to students in state schools, will ensure that the head count is not fabricated from this year. “We will actually get the exact figure. And when the pupil-teacher ratio is revised, more divisions will become imminent, and more teachers will be required,” Shajahan said.

The Times of India, 19 June 2012

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