Pune, 26th December 2023: In a significant development, at least 16 English medium schools in Pune district are set to shut down due to a severe lack of enrolments. According to data from the Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+), maintained by the Union Ministry of Education, these schools, primarily private and unaided, have been directed to close their doors owing to the absence of students.
Officials from the education department highlighted that the concentration of schools in specific areas and a parental inclination towards aided schools were primary factors contributing to the dismal enrolment figures. Rajendra Ahire, the Regional Director of Education for Pune, emphasized the impact of zero enrolment on the state’s overall performance rankings.
“If the U-DISE indicates zero enrolment for these schools, it adversely affects the state’s rankings. Over the past two years, these institutions have grappled with enrolment challenges, existing as mere structures without students, yet officially registered. Consequently, they have been instructed to cease operations and withdraw their registration from U-DISE,” stated Ahire.
The affected schools are scattered across both urban and rural regions, including Daund, Pimpri, Akurdi, Aundh, Haveli, Mulshi, Hadapsar, Velhe, and other areas. Most of these institutions operated on a self-financed basis as private, unaided schools. The decision to identify schools for closure was based on enrolment records from the academic years 2022-23 and 2023-24.
Regarding the staffing implications, Ahire explained, “In government-aided schools, staff deployment is typically managed based on need. However, in the case of private schools, the decision rests with the management on how staff resources can be utilized or transferred.”
Furthermore, Ahire acknowledged the impact of the fear of COVID infection, which contributed to both inter and intra-state migrations, resulting in a significant number of students dropping out of the education system. This development raises concerns about India’s goal of achieving universal school enrollment by 2030, with a reported steady decline in enrolments, leaving 3.3 million fewer children in school in 2019-20 compared to a decade earlier.