TIMES NEWS NETWORK, December 06,2017

Source: The Times of India

Pune: Teacher and school unions in the state have expressed disappointment over the state government’s decision to shut down over 1,300 schools across Maharashtra owing to the reduced number of students.

The unions have demanded that the state government withdraw the decision to shut down these schools and said that the government should improve their quality instead. On December 2, the state government announced that about 1,314 schools, which have less than 10 students, would be shut down.

Education minister Vinod Tawde said students and teachers from these schools will be shifted to nearby ones and they will not be deprived of quality education and jobs. He said both teachers and students will be shifted to the same school.

School and teacher unions have protested against the move, stating that it would only encourage more private schools to come up. Datta Dhege of Chatrabharati Sanghatna said, “If the quality of these schools is poor then it is the responsibility of the state government to improve it. It is government’s failure in this case.”

Shikshak Ekta Manch, another association of teachers, questioned if the state government had conducted any scientific survey of schools on their quality before arriving at the decision. Suhas Vernekar, a manch member, said, “The state government should withdraw its decision to shut down schools immediately. We will fight for the welfare of students studying in these schools till the government withdraws its decision.”

According to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the state can shut schools with less than 20 students. The state education department had done a survey in 2009 but the decision to shut schools was not implemented. There are over 12,000 schools across the state with less than 20 students attending classes and 5,002 with less than 10 students.

After a review, the department decided to shift students and staff from 1,314 schools to nearby schools. It was decided that students from primary schools will be shifted to other schools within 1km, while secondary school students will be transferred to a school within a 3km radius.