Till now policy makers didn’t want to admit the fact that our education sector has been drastically damaged during the corona outbreak. This is now being revealed in different government and non-government surveys and studies.
According to the University Grants Commission (UGC)’s annual report, there were more than 4.4 million (4,441,717) students in the public and private universities back in 2021.
In 2020, the number was almost 4.7 million (4,690,876). In other words, 249,159 students have been lost within just a year.
At present there are 53 (50 till 2021) public and 108 private universities in the country. Of them, public universities (including the national university) have lost the most number of students with the number being more than 230,000.
The rest of the students are from private universities. The majority of the lost students are male. On the other hand, more female students have decreased in the secondary and higher secondary levels, several studies have found.
Why did this happen? According to educationalists, students have been compelled to leave studies because of poverty and corona outbreak. The government has not made any visible attempt to retain them.
A major reason behind the decrease of female students in primary and secondary levels is child marriage. Being unable to pay for their daughters’ education, many parents have married them off, although it’s a punishable offence to marry off a girl aged below 18 years.
The continuous deterioration of the education quality is a notable cause of male students being lost from higher education. Already, there’s no proper education at the colleges, running under the national university.
Because of this, severe session jam has been created in the university. As a result, students have lost interest in completing their higher education.
Besides, when students have seen that jobs cannot be found even after completing studies, it made them lose interest in studies. Some had gone on to choose one or another kind of profession thinking of their families’ financial crisis and never returned to classrooms after corona.
The information of losing 250,000 students, provided in UGC’s report is a clear picture of the policy makers’ failure and neglect towards education. It can never be desirable to lose even a single student from an educational institute.
It’s unfortunate for the education ministry or the national university not taking any steps in this regard. Even the public universities started taking online classes quite later. Many colleges in the remote corners didn’t have that facility either.
And the reason for the private universities to lose students is the financial imbalance. Many students used to finance their education as private tutors or with part-time jobs. This stopped during corona times.
UGC and the education ministry should take an initiative of finding those 250,000 lost students and bring them back to their studies. They cannot assume the role of silent spectators, thinking that there will be new students in higher education from among the SSC and HSC students.
In this case, they can also get assistance from non-government organisations working on education.
Students have to be seen as the future of the country and the society, rather than just numbers. Let effective measures be taken to free the national university of the session jams.
The positive news is the number of female students in higher education is going up. The fact that our girls aren’t lagging behind in any sector has yet been proved again.