Enrollment declines in primary schools

At least five students (PP-VI) in primary and secondary schools left school every day in the last one year.

According to the annual education statistics, the enrolment of students in primary and secondary schools decreased by 1,886 students in 2018.

This trend, according to the report, has been observed at the primary levels over the last six years. Since 2011, the number of students enrolled in primary and secondary schools decreased by 18,875 to date.

The report states that the decrease in primary student’s enrollment could be because of stabilisation of primary school enrolment due to initiatives like the establishment of extended classrooms (ECRs) since 2009.

Establishment of ECR was initiated as an intervention to improve access to education especially in remote, rural and scattered villages where students have to walk long distances to school.

The ECRs are conducted in multi-grade settings with a minimum of 20 children under the supervision of one or two teachers who have been trained in multi-grade teaching. As of 2018, there are 1,753 students enrolled in 79 ECRs across the country comprising one percent of the total enrolment in the school education system.

The other reason could be because of a decline in school going age population. A comparison of the population and housing census of 2005 and 2017 show three percent reduction in the number of children between six to 12 years.    

For 2018, the adjusted net primary enrollment rate (ANER) for primary education of six – 12-years-old was estimated at 96.8 percent, which includes 2.1 percent enrolled in secondary classes and 1.7 percent in monastic education system.

The report states that the traditional definition of NER for primary education takes into account only those children aged six-12 years enrolled in the primary grades.

“The shortcoming with this definition is that it leaves out children of the same age group enrolled at the secondary level or in monastic education, who are also in the education system or at least attending other forms of formal structured learning like monastic education.”

The Apparent Intake Ratio (AIR) for 2018 stands at 102.7 percent, which has increased compared to the previous years. AIR is the total number of new entrants in the first grade of primary education regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of total six years old in the population.

The report states that the Net Intake Rate (NIR) in 2018 is estimated at 63.4 percent, which means that 63.4 percent of the right age populations (six-years-old) are enrolled in the first grade (PP) of primary education while the remaining 36.6 percent are either enrolled in classes higher than PP (4.3 percent) or not yet enrolled in school (32.3 percent).

In terms of age composition of PP enrolment for 2018, 60.1 percent of the total PP enrolment, including repeaters is of six-years-old while 36.5 percent are over-aged and 3.4 percent under-aged.

“The declining PP enrolment since 2010 could be due to reasons stated earlier for decline in overall primary enrolment,” it states. “However, PP enrolment in 2018 has increased by 432 students.”

The report showed that on an average, only 50.5 percent of primary enrolment is of right age that is six – 12 years old, which is an increase of about 0.7 percent as compared to the previous year. “This shows an improvement in the age-specific enrolment across primary classes.”

According to the report, the ANER of 96.8 percent for primary also indicates that about 2,840 (3.2 percent) primary age children are out of school or not enrolled in any forms of structured learning.

These, according to the report, may include children in remote and hard to reach areas, children of nomadic communities and migrant populations, children with learning disabilities with special learning needs are currently not catered for, and those who have dropped out.

It is estimated that about 32.3 percent of six-years-old are not yet enrolled in school and assumed that these children could be from these remote areas where they have to walk longer distance to commute to school, the report states. “Looking at the current age of entrants in PP some might still enroll or return to school while some may not.”

Based on the available data, 36.4 percent of the children entering school for the first time are older than six-years-old indicating that these children could have been accounted as out of school in the previous year.

The report recommends an in-depth study to further reconfirm the reason for out of school children.

Meanwhile, the number of Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres in the country has increased from 307 in 2017 to 340 this year with 8,499 children and 764 facilitators.

In 2017, the 307 ECCDs had enrolled 7,250 children, facilitated by 672 facilitators.

Studies show that children who have attended an Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programme learn better in school compared to those who have not attended such programme.

Dechen Tshomo

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