As many as 263 associate schools of the Punjab School Education Board across the state will be closed with effect from April 1, 2014, for failing to implement the board norm of having a minimum campus area of 500 square yards.
An associate school is a private institution associated with the board.
There are nearly 25,000 students and 5,000 staff members in the 'erring' schools. These students will be admitted to government-run schools.
Talking to HT, Punjab education minister Sikander Singh Maluka said, "We have asked the 263 schools to wind up their operations after March 31, 2013, to coincide with the end of the ongoing academic session. We will shift the students to nearby government schools in the next session. I have issued instructions to the board to ensure that these schools are closed."
He said a survey had found about 700 associate schools flouting board norms. "Of these, 263 schools are functioning in an area of less than 200 square yards and also do not have proper infrastructure. We have given time to more than 400 schools, functioning in an area of 200-500 square yards, to fulfil the area norm and improve infrastructure," the minister added.
Tej Paul, secretary general, Punjab Private Schools Organisation, said the state government had granted the status of associate schools to unrecognised schools in 2011-12 as these did not fulfil the board's conditions of affiliation. The state government had set up a committee under the board chairman to lay down conditions and terms for associate schools. It is unfortunate that till date no meeting of this committee has been held and also no conditions have been laid down, he added.
Paul claimed that no land condition had been specified while granting status of associate schools, adding that schools with area even less than 100 square yards enjoyed the status of associate schools. "The present decision will leave many people unemployed and infrastructure already built will be of no use. We urge the state government to reconsider the move and save the future of students," he said.