Survey: 18.4% decrease in children attending school between 2021 and 2041

NEW DELHI: With India ready for a strong deceleration of the population in the next two decades, the Economic Survey aims to optimize the educational infrastructure, since it is estimated that the number of children going to school will decrease by 18.4 percent between 2021 and 2041. On the other hand, it is necessary to expand the health infrastructure, focused on geriatric care and the demand for hospital beds to increase life expectancy, both for men and women, at 60 years of age.

As of 2016, the population in the age group of 5 to 14 years, which roughly corresponds to the number of children attending primary school, has already begun to decline in all the major states, except in Jammu and Kashmir.

Population projections suggest that this trend will continue until 2041 and that the population size of 5 to 14 years will be drastically reduced in Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka by 2041. It will also decrease in lagging states such as ,, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

In view of the projected decline in children attending primary school, the number of schools per capita will increase significantly in India in all major states, even if no more schools are added, indicated in the survey report.

It is shared that states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have more than 40 percent of the elementary schools with less than 50 students. There are similar trends in Assam and Odisha with a large number of schools per capita and small schools. The number of primary schools with fewer than 50 students has increased over the last decade in all major states, except Delhi, it is claimed.

Soon the time will come in many states to consolidate or merge elementary schools to keep them viable. Schools located within a radius of 1 to 3 km can be chosen for this purpose to ensure there are no significant changes in access, he says. The recommendations come with a caveat: it is not about reducing investment in primary education, but an argument to shift the emphasis of quantity policy to the quality and efficiency of education.

While the school population will decrease, the aging of the population with the highest life expectancy will put pressure on the health infrastructure. It is noted that if Indian hospital facilities remain at current levels, the population increase in the next two decades will drastically reduce the per capita availability of hospital beds in India in all major states. However, for states in the advanced stage of the demographic transition, the rapidly changing age structure will mean that the type of health care services will have to adapt to a greater provision of geriatric care.