Coronavirus outbreak may force many parents to get the names of their children struck off from private schools due to financial crunch and admit them to the government school as they find it cheaper as compared to the private schools.
As per a survey conducted by a Delhi based non-profit Central Square Foundation (CSF) – which works in the education sector with central and state governments says “Covid-19 is likely to have a very serious impact on the private school sector. In the short term, due to stress on parent and school finances, the sector is likely to shrink, with parents shifting their children to more affordable schools, including government schools.”
CSF stated that currently around 50% of all students in India are enrolled in 4.5 lakh privately managed schools across the country as per the data from the central government Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE 2019).
The CSF conducted a three-week preliminary survey across different states including Delhi and Telangana, they conducted interviews with “over 90 stakeholders” for the survey.
The results of the survey were released in a report titled “State of the sector report — Private Schools in India” on Wednesday.
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As per the report, due to school closures and widespread non-payment of fees for these period low-fee schools have seen a significant impact on revenue which could lead to school closures. Several parents are struggling to pay tuition fees, the low-cost private schools are struggling to operate their schools as almost all of them are parents dependent on the tuition fees they charge to run their operations.
More than 50% of school owners surveyed have uncollected fees, to the tune of Rs 4 lakh to Rs 4.8 crore due from the previous year, accounting for 13% to 80% of annual revenue, according to the report.
Moreover, in the report, “Financial distress for schools will continue even after re-opening as they anticipate drop in enrolments. A significant proportion of parents surveyed say they may have to switch schools for the coming academic year.”
Disruption in Learning
Due to lockdown and non-payment of fees for this period, lower fees schools have faced problems in keeping up with online lessons. They started using digital learning platforms to ensure learning continues. If schools not able to conduct classes properly, it could lead to dropouts.
The majority of schools are attempting digital transitions through low-tech, WhatsApp-based tools or video classes but schools are worried about enforcing online learning and setting in place accountability systems since many students don’t have access to smartphones and the internet and this can also lead to school dropouts. As per the report, nearly 33% of parents can support their children with online learning at home.
Decreasing Enrollments in Private Schools
Fallout may be that enrolment in private schools decreases in the short term as in the lockdown thousands of families have migrated to other places due to financial crunches.
The report said, “Thousands of families migrated to their hometowns during the lockdown and might not re-enroll their children in the same schools next year.” Some parents might enroll their children in a more affordable government school for this academic year.
In recent years increased enrollment in private schools is due to demand good education among inspirational parents as they think they provide a better learning environment for their kids but they also find that their children’s performance in private schools is only marginally better than government schools. So, this could also be reasons that parents can enroll their students in the government school as they cannot afford expensive private schools.