Wednesday, June 19, 2013

School shutdown will hurt the poor: Lok Satta

The State Government’s decision to close down 3193 Government primary schools which have less than 10 students on their rolls and about 4000 private schools which have not registered themselves because of the norms mandated in the Right to Education Act will deprive education to nearly two lakh children, said State Lok Satta Party Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma here today. Children belonging to poorer sections will go without education because of the absence of a school in the neighborhood or their inability to afford costly schools.

In a media statement, Mr. Varma said the Government decision is thoughtless in that it comes at a time education is in a parlous state.

Quoting Government data, Mr. Varma said there are 3193 Government primary schools with less than 10 students and 5679 schools with less than 20 students, As many as 5774 schools have no teachers at all, 15170 schools have just one teacher and 23146 schools, two teachers. Of them, the Government has decided to shut down schools with less than 10 students this year. Another 5000 schools will face a similar fate next year.

Closure of about 4000 budget schools which charge less than Rs.500 a month as fee, in the name of implementing the Right to Education Act, will badly hit education in the State. What is paradoxical is that a Government which runs schools by employing education volunteers seeks to shut down budget schools by stipulating norms like teachers’ qualifications and salaries and built up area. As a result, there will only be corporate and Government schools hereafter.

Mr. Varma wanted the Government not to shut down any Government or private school for this year and explore alternatives so that the poor do not go without schooling.

Mr. Varma suggested that in areas where the Government cannot run schools, it can enable poor students through direct cash transfer to study in private budget schools. It can stipulate certain standards for such schools, instead of driving poor students to corporate schools, said Mr. Varma.

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