Nagpur: The State Government has started a move to close schools with less than 20 students or merge them with adjacent schools. If that happens, there is a possibility of closure of 447 Marathi schools in Nagpur district. There are about 1516 schools of Zilla Parishad in Nagpur district out of which 447 schools have 20 or less number of students, according to a report in a local Marathi daily.
In order to increase the enrollment of Zilla Parishad schools, various programme are implemented from the government level. Along with this, for students to survive in schools, students are provided with everything from uniforms to textbooks and mid-day meals. However, even after this, the strength of students in ZP does not increase. The number of students is also decreasing day by day. Four to five years ago, the Education Department had planned to close schools of local bodies with low student enrollment in the State.
Recently, the State Education Department had instructed all district officers to identify schools having less than 20 students enrolled and check the status of their reallocation. The notification also stated that information on schools that have demanded more teaching staff is identified and submitted to the department.
Government school teachers have opposed the government’s move to shut down schools with less than 20 students and said that it was mandatory under the Right to Education act to have a junior school in one km periphery of a village and senior schools in a 3 km periphery.
Teachers said that even if some rural schools had low enrolment, their existence was important to make entire villages literate. However, the teaching community feels that it is against the RTE Act that has set some regulations when it comes to junior and senior schools in the reach of students. Putting up a list and instructing them to shut down is unfair.
The Education Department issued a notification to the District Education Officers asking for information regarding the status of teacher recruitment and also student enrolment across schools in Maharashtra.
Senior officer from the Education Department in this letter said, “All district education officers should provide information on students’ enrolment in every district, approved number of appointment of teachers as per the allocation done, number of recruited staff and vacant posts.
The information should be provided considering the guidelines issued in the August 28 government resolution.” He added that they have also told education officers to give information on how many schools in Maharashtra have less than 20 students enrolled and what provisions have such schools made to shut down the classes. “The education department has put up a proposal to the state government to fill up 67,755 posts,” he added.
Taluka wise number of schools with enrollment less than 20 in Nagpur district:
• Nagpur — 33
• Kamptee – 13
• Hingna – 34
• Narkhed – 39
• Katol – 51
• Kalameshwar – 25
• Saoner – 39
• Parsheoni – 27
• Ramtek – 35
• Mouda – 25
• Kuhi – 46
• Umred – 47
• Bhiwapur — 33