State to implement cluster school concept to accommodate 18K students | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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State to implement cluster school concept to accommodate 18K students

Aug 17, 2023 12:38 AM IST

The government of Mumbai plans to merge schools with low enrollment to improve education and infrastructure. Over 17,600 schools have less than 20 students and one or two teachers. The cluster school concept has been successful in two pilot schools and the government plans to expand it to other districts with financial assistance from the state and central governments.

Mumbai: In a bid to improve learning experience and weed out administrative glitches, the state government has decided to promote the ‘cluster school’ concept by merging schools having low enrolment.

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This would, the government thinks, will help in disseminating better education and socialising apart from the upgradation of the infrastructure.

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The state has over 17,600 schools with less than 20 students and one or two teachers. Over 7,000 of these 16% of the total schools have less than five teachers, while another 5,000 schools have less than 10 students. Some of these schools even have one or two students, while some schools with up to 20 students of various classes have only one or two teachers for all subjects.

Though the state has decided not to shut schools with less numbers of students, it has decided to promote the cluster school concept after its successful launch in Panshet in Pune and Toranmal in Nandurbar as pilot.

The Panshet District Council School, which has 109 students from 13 such schools with lower school roll, has become one of the model schools with state-of-the-art facilities, according to the officials. “We have arranged two GPS-tracker enabled school vans donated by two companies, a digital classroom with android TVs and a computer lab. The students are ferried from villages within 10-km radius of the cluster school which is strategically located at the central place and with better infrastructure. We received an overwhelming response from the students and parents,” Rajendra Ahire, deputy director of education, Pune division, said. He added that they are trying to implement a similar concept in the neighbouring Ahmednagar district.

Similarly, 26 residential schools in tribal areas of Nandurbar were brought under a single roof at Toranmal Residential School. “The residential school in hilly Toranmal is a huge success as we have merged 26 schools with a cumulative strength of 700 students. We have the capacity to increase the roll in this school to 1,500. The cluster school helps us reduce establishment costs and at the same time upgrade the learning experience,” an official from the school education department said.

“We are now aiming to take the concept to other districts with financial assistance from the state and central governments. We can assist with a grant of up to 1 crore under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and are requesting the central government for it. Apart from it, the basic need of the cluster schools is the arrangements for the transportation of the students for which we have the provision of spending up to 6,000 a student a year,” Ranjit Sing Deol, principal secretary, school education, said.

Stating that the schools with less number of students are struggling for proper education and social connect, Deol said, “Neither students, nor teachers develop interest in studies and other extracurricular activities. The cluster schools, on the other hand, are equipped with better facilities and infrastructure.”

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