It may be too early to ascertain the impact of Right to Education (RTE) Act on the school education system but the provisional data of the 8th All India Education Survey released by NCERT points to new trends in the sector.
During the survey period 2002-09, the overall student enrollment levels have gone up along with a dip in pupil-teacher ratio (PTR). But on the flip side, the dropout rate of girls from higher classes and the poor state of rural schools continue to be causes of concern.
The survey covered 13 lakh recognised schools across the country, of which more than 84.14 per cent were from rural areas. It attributes the fall in PTR across primary, upper primary and secondary levels from 42:1 to 32:1 to the overall 30-per cent increase in number of teachers. This rise, the survey said, is fuelled by a 50 per cent increase in number of teachers at the higher secondary level in rural areas.
The student enrollment from Class I to XII witnessed a rise of 13.67 per cent while the total number of schools increased by an overall 26.77 per cent. With 49.15 per cent, the upper primary schools witnessed the maximum growth. Private unaided primary schools too continued to grow at fast pace registering 37.32 per cent increase from 49,667 in the seventh survey to 68,203.
While there is an overall increase of 19.2 per cent in girls enrollment, the survey points out that the share of girls enrollment to the total enrollment in higher classes has decreased. While at the primary stage, girls enrollment percentage is 48.13, at the higher secondary level it has fallen to 42.56 per cent. This indicates that a considerable number of girls dropout from formal schooling as they move to higher classes. The trend is the same in rural areas too.
The survey revealed that schools in rural areas are not equipped with basic amenities like drinking water, playgrounds and usable toilets. While one-fifth of the total rural primary schools do not have drinking water, three out of 10 schools do not have a usable toilet. Half of them have no playgrounds for children.