Despite the state government efforts to ensure quality education and raise the status of government-run schools in Manipur, private schools continue to dominate the school education scenario in the state while government schools have been emptied out gradually.
In Manipur, in the effort to boost education and attract parents to send their wards to schools, over 100 private schools were set up and given recognition by the government in less than five years during the period 2017-2020.
According to the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) data of the Education Ministry, the mushrooming of private schools in the state continued as Manipur saw an increase of over 200 private schools in a decade’s time since the 1990’s.
The state witnessed private school boom in the 90’s with the establishment of nearly 300 schools in the decade. The following decades 2000’s and 2010’s each also saw setting up and recognition of over 200 private schools. The data points to the distressing fact that private schools continue to dominate the school education scenario in the state.
As per the latest UDISE 2020-21 report, there are 2,842 schools under the state government of which 1,884 are managed by the Department of Education, 952 are managed by the Tribal Welfare Department and six comes under the administration of the Social Welfare Department.
While government schools outnumber government recognised private schools by at least 1,800, the number of students in state government schools constitutes only about 27.36 per cent at 1,77,276. Contrary to it, over 4 lakh school-going children out of 6,47,836 total students in Manipur are studying in only recognised private schools.
It is pertinent to point out here that Manipur has 142 unrecognised schools with over 14,194 students according to the UDISE+ 2020-21 data.
The same data reveals that the number of recognised private schools for studying secondary level is 496 while that under the department of education is 366. Besides, 169 recognised private schools offer higher secondary education while the same is offered in only 57 government schools.
It may be mentioned here that the government recently upgraded few schools from secondary level to higher secondary level. However, the same has also been marred with reports and complaints of requisite infrastructures and staff not being provided to the upgraded schools.
As per the district-wise data, recognised private schools are concentrated in the valley as Imphal West registered the maximum number of private schools at 197 followed by Imphal East at 152 and Thoubal and Bishnupur at 118 and 92 respectively.
Nevertheless, Kangpokpi and Churachandpur also have 91 and 88 recognised private schools respectively.
Speaking to the Imphal Free Press in this regard, Head of Department of Education, Manipur University, Premlata Maisnam opined that various factor contributed to the mushrooming of private schools since decades in the state.
The debasing of government schools, the perception of parents who prefer private schools because of varied reasons, the commodification of human resources among others gave a cumulative impact prompting the growth of private schools, she said.
Premlata maintained that private schools mushroomed out of many choosing the easy and most profitable path, which is to commodify the human resources instead of plunging into other ventures to earn income.
The head of the education department further stated that even the highbrows like academicians have a trust deficiency in government schools. Citing studies done by scholars under her supervision, she said that adequate infrastructures like having playgrounds and libraries in addition to the requisite classrooms go a long way in increasing output and subsequent popularization of schools.
Premlata also explained that the teachers in government schools are well trained and regular inspection and supervision by officials concerned will automatically help improve the status of government schools.
Interestingly, the government launched the ‘School Fagathansi Mission’ in 2019 for holistic growth and upgradation of government schools and reforms to improve enrolment of students. Besides, the government also implemented ‘The Manipur Private School (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2017’ to provide for the registration and regulations of private schools in the state.
According to the Act, the criteria for registering and recognition of private schools include that the buildings and premises of the school will provide adequate facilities with due regard, safety and hygiene, qualification and adequate payment of teaching and non-teaching staff according to prescribed standards and non-disproportionate fees among others.
In such a scenario, a question remains unanswered whether the department and authorities concerned are taking into consideration the mandates of the Act while granting recognition to private schools to such a huge extent.
Also Read: Will change of regulations help improve PhD degree quality?