In a stunning phenomenon parents in AP are shifting wards from private to public schools

Visakhapatnam: Scripting an innovative success story, Andhra Pradesh is witnessing reverse migration of students from private to government schools at a time when India is going through heavy drop-out owing to pandemic effect.

Initiatives launched by Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy have promised radical transformation in school education. The long-term objective of the new schemes is to prepare students for a better future in the data-driven world. This has struck a chord with the parents as well as the students.

The State has 61,824 schools with a total enrolment of 68.27 lakh. Of this the number in the government sector is 39.89 lakh.

What is surprising is the fact that parents of over two lakh students have opted for transfer of their wards from private to government schools in just one year. The government’s success in reversing the trend can be attributed to a plethora of student/parent-oriented schemes implemented after the change of guard in 2019.

Schemes like Jagananna Ammavodi, Nadu-Nedu and Jaganna Vidya Kanuka Jaganana Amma Vodi have made most parents to shift their children to government schools. Due to the pandemic, many parents also feel it is safe to enroll their kids in a nearby government school instead of forcing them to traverse in private transport to convent and other distantly located schools.

Jagananna Ammavodi is a flagship scheme under which Rs.15,000 is advanced to the mothers of students of classes 1-12. “My decision behind putting both my kids in a government school is due to increased focus on improving the quality of education,” said Narasimha Naidu, a farmer from Salur of Vizianagaram district.

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It is for the first time that the education has been incentivised for students and parents in the country. The scheme has given parents the option to educate their children instead of employing them for extremely important additional income, Commissioner of School Education V. China Veerabhadrudu, told Siasat.com.

Another scheme termed successful by most parents is Nadu-Nedu (then-now). Under this scheme the government has undertaken a massive exercise of revamping over 45,000 schools by improving existing infrastructure with decent class rooms, drinking water and hygienic toilets and recreation facilities. New facilities are also being created on a war-footing. An English language lab has been set up in each school with the sole objective of facilitating learning of the language through modern means. 

In the first phase, 15,715 schools have been taken up for the project to be completed in the next two months. 

Under Jagananna Vidya Kanuka text-books, note books and all other accessories along with a backpack are given to each student. Mid-day meal has been made into an attractive programme with improvement in food quality with periodic review by the stakeholders from the neighbourhood. Mid-day meal is being provided with nutritious supplementary food along with chicken and five eggs per week. The government has provided peanut-jaggery chikki to the children as an additional nutritious food under Jagananna Gorumudda (mid-day meal scheme). Cooking cost has also been increased by upping remuneration to the cooks and helpers. The government says it has led to an additional commitment of Rs.676 crore towards supply of eggs, chikkies and additional cost towards honorarium to the cook cum helpers. A four-tier monitoring system has been put in place to ensure proper implementation of the scheme.

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“The initiatives launched by the government are revolutionary, I haven’t seen such a strong willpower by any government in the past to improve the quality of education,” says Chappidi Rajasekhara Reddy, a teacher at Zillla Parishad High School in Railway Koduru in Kadapa district.

According to District Education Officer of Chittoor G. Narasimha Reddy, Ammavodi is attracting many to government schools from rural segments and exuded confidence that the enrolment will witness a quantum jump after the pandemic subsides.  

The pandemic casting heavy burden on the government notwithstanding, massive allocations have been made to the new schemes to improve performance of the students in competitive exams with plans to introduce English medium.  Allocations made so far include Rs.6,456 crore for Ammavodi, Rs.3,669 crore for Naadu Nedu, Rs.777.82 crore for Gorumudda (mid-day meal) and Rs.648 crore for Vidya Kanuka.

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