Data Focus

According to ASER 2021 report, also there was a steady rise in the number of students opting for private tuition

After a steep dip during the second wave of the pandemic, education inflation has been slowly rising. While inflation in the sector was a mere 0.63 per cent in April 2021, a year later, it rose to 4.12 per cent, with educational institutions reopening across the country. Experts think that this may go up further in the coming months, owing to returning to normalcy post-Covid and the increasing dependence on tuition.

CPI index on education (which includes educational services and items) started dipping since June 2020 as the country went in to severe lockdowns due to the pandemic. While it started increasing since May 2021, the rise wasn’t quite steep. It is also interesting to note that education inflation was quite high, around 10 per cent in 2012, which slipped subsequently, only to rise close to 9 per cent in 2019.

So, what drove the inflation in pre-pandemic times and what changed? Going by the National Sample Survey documents, increase in cost of primary and upper primary education was steeper — rising by 30.7 per cent and 27.5 per cent respectively between June 2014 and June 2018. The increase was comparatively lower for higher education. While graduate course fees saw a 5.8 per cent hike, the increase was 13.19 per cent for PG and higher courses. This was the period when the CPI inflation on education was rising.

However, in 2020, right after the pandemic struck, almost all education institutions were closed for over a year. While some universities called back their researchers and master’s students after the first wave subsided, schools were reopened fully only in 2022. “While online classes were being conducted, schools did not charge a lot of additional fees (apart from tuition fees) from parents. They started charging those components only now,” notes Ramanand Nand, a former adviser at the Ministry of Education and the founder of a think tank Centre for Policy Research and Governance. Some States too had asked schools to only charge a portion of the original fees. At that time, students also didn’t opt for any other facilities relating to school. “Now that everything has come back to normal, the inflation in this sector is set to rise,” Nand notes.

At the same time, Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2021 shows a steady rise in the number of students opting for private tuition. While 28.6 per cent of the total number of school students in the country opted for tuition, it rose to 39.2 per cent in 2021. Over 41 per cent of high school students (Class IX and above) opt for tuition. It is observed that 37 per cent of primary school students (Class I and II) also depend on tuition

Published on June 10, 2022