According to a study released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), school enrolment in primary classes (grades I-V) began dropping in India in 2011, and is expected to continue until 2025.

The study, titled “Projection and Trends of School Enrolments by 2025,” noted that school enrolment is expected to decline at all levels by 2025 due to a decline in population in the age group of 6 – 16 years.


Key findings of the report

  • While enrolment in the school system (classes I – X) increased by more than 900% between 1950 and 2016, the proportion of female students increased sharply by more than 1,000%.
  • The growth in enrolment at the primary stage continued up to 2011. Since 2011, enrolment has been declining and it will continue till 2025.
  • The upper primary (classes VI-VIII) and secondary stages (IX-X) started witnessing a decline in enrolment in 2016 and 2019, respectively.
  • The report stated that enrolment is a function of population, consequently, if the population of an age group falls, so would enrolment.
      • According to Census 2011 data, the proportion of children aged 0-6 years in the overall population declined from 18% to 13.12% between 1991 and 2011.
      • As a result, the gap between enrolment and population also decreased.
  • A look at the social categorisation of the figures reveals that the drop in enrolment for students from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe communities began in the 1990s.
  • During the period 2011-2016, growth in SC and ST children’s primary stage enrolment was negative: -5.27% and -12.20%, respectively.
  • The reduction in enrolment of SC, ST children is remarkably comparable to the overall enrolment pattern in India.


About the study

  • It is a crucial exercise commissioned by the NCERT’s Educational Survey Division for the country to understand how school education is progressing.
  • It studies the projection of enrolment of students (in the age group of 6 – 16 years) in schools for states and Union territories (covers 20 states and UTs) and for marginalised groups.
  • The NCERT report had studied trends since 1950, when the country had 2,171 schools with 2.38 crore students.
  • It referred to data from Education Statistics published by the Ministry of Education, All India School Education Survey conducted by the council itself and Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) data collected by the Education Ministry.
  • It will be of great use to policy planners, policy makers and researchers in the country, as such projections form the basis for investment decisions such as opening of new schools or upgrading existing one, employment and deployment of teachers, etc.