The overall enrolment in schools will have declined by more than 14 per cent by 2025, beginning from 2011, with the enrolment of girls expected to decline by over 2 per cent more than that of boys, an NCERT study has projected. The enrolment of scheduled caste students would remain unchanged for the next 5–10 years, while the number of students from the scheduled tribe will face stagnation after 2023-24, the study by the Educational Survey Division (ESD) of NCERT added.
The report said that enrolment is a function of population, so a decline in the child population in the age groups of 6–11, 11–14, and 14–16 years is reflected in the enrolment at each stage. The report ‘Projection and Trends of School Enrolment by 2025’ have taken into account the National Achievement Survey (NAS) conducted by the NCERT and figures from the annual Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) data. The study considered NAS reports from 21 states where the population was more than 5 million in the 2011 Population Census of India, saying “there is much fluctuation in the data of the North Eastern states and some statistics are not available.”
"The growth in enrolment at the primary stage continued up to the year 2011. Since 2011, the enrollment has declined and this will continue till 2025. During the period from 2011 to 2025, total enrolment will decrease by 14.37 per cent whereas enrolment of boys and girls will decrease by 13.28 per cent and 15.54 per cent, respectively,” the study report said.
"At the upper primary stage, the enrolment of boys, girls and the total percentage started to decline from 2016. During this period, enrolment decreased by 9.47 per cent (in total), 8.07 per cent (boys) and 10.94 per cent (girls).
“Similarly, the decline in enrolment was also recorded at the secondary stage but here the decline started from 2020,” it said. In the social groups, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the decline in school enrolment pattern was very similar to India’s enrolment pattern. "After 2016–17 and 2017–18, the enrollment of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe children were almost uniform in all the stages for some years. It may be due to stagnancy in population,” it said. “It was projected that after 2020-21, enrolment of scheduled caste students would remain unchanged for the next 5–10 years while in case of scheduled tribe students, there will be a stagnation in this group after 2023-24,” it added.
"Enrolment is a function of population. If there is less gap between enrolment figure and child population of the respective age or age-group then growth in enrolment will be directly proportional to the growth in the child population of that respective age or age-group,” it said. The NCERT report has studied trends since 1950 when the country had 2,171 schools with 2.38 crore students.
“The study is an outcome of the PAC programme’s objective of projecting the school enrolment in the country from 2016-2025. “It will help in identifying the possible trends in school enrolment for boys and girls as well as the marginalized groups of society for all the states and UTs in the country,” said Indrani Bhaduri, Head of survey division at the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). She said the analysis can give insights and help the government plan future education policies. "This forms the basis for many investment decisions like the opening of new schools, upgradation of existing schools, employment and deployment of teachers and the provisioning of infrastructure,” said Bhaduri.