800 Punjab govt primary schools with less than 20 students to close from Oct 25 | Hindustan Times
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800 Punjab govt primary schools with less than 20 students to close from Oct 25

The state government has issued a notification on October 18, directing district education officers of the state to merge schools with less than 20 students to other schools nearby

punjab Updated: Oct 22, 2017 09:13 IST
Parampreet Singh Narula
A government primary school in Ludhiana.
A government primary school in Ludhiana.(HT File )

Barely, a week after Diwali, lights will shut down permanently on 800 primary government schools in the state. The state government has issued a notification on October 18, directing district education officers (DEOs) of the state to merge schools with less than 20 students to other schools nearby. The notification that Punjab director education department (elementary education), Inderjeet Singh, has issued also asks for an implementation report by October 25 (Wednesday).

The reasons for the merger is that even as these 800 schools each have a strength of less than 20 students, on an average, more than 1 teacher is posted at these facilities. In fact, there are 57 schools with less than five students, but they still used up 75 teachers. Following the merging process, the teachers and staff posted in these school will be shifted to other schools.

Officials said merging of schools will not only help in giving financial relief to the education department, but will fill vacancies of teachers in other schools by shifting them.

The move is expected to save money for the cash-strapped government as the state will have to maintain less of the infrastructure. Savings will also result in teachers’ salary, other staff, mid-day meal, electricity bills and a maintenance grant.

‘No child will travel more than 1km’

Punjab education secretary Krishan Kumar said, “There is no violation of RTE Act. No child will be forced to travel more than 1km. Where distance is more than 1 km, the school will continue as before. Largely, the schools identified are in urban areas and teachers will be posted as per their choice. In case they have any issues, we are willing to listen. If number of students increases, schools may be restarted too.”

140 schools to close in Hoshiarpur

In Hoshiarpur, which has the highest literacy rate in the state at 86%, the most schools will close at 140. In Gurdaspur 133 schools will be merged. The director has also directed DEOs to provide all the basic facilities to the students getting shifted to the other adjacent schools and asked centre heads to maintain and clean the vacant buildings till they are to be used later.

The roll call for school closure in other districts is 71 in Ropar, 54 in Jalandhar, 52 in Pathankot, 50 in Patiala while 41 in each Kapurthala and Fatehgarh Sahib. Ludhiana will see closure of 39 schools; 34 in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, 30 each in Amritsar and SAS Nagar.

In Sangrur 23 schools will close with 22 shutting down in Ferozepur. The districts where less than 10 schools will be merged ar Bathinda, Barnala, Faridkot, Fazilka, Moga, Mansa, Muktsar and Tarn Taran. At least 800 midday meal workers in these schools will be unemployed after the decision in implemented.

Unfortunate decision, says Cheema

Former education minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Daljeet Singh Cheema said, “Closing 800 primary schools is an unfortunate decision and shows that the government is not serious about primary education in the state.”

Window of hope open

Officials say that for now, most of the merged schools have been combined with a nearby school to minimise difficulty for students in accessing the facility. If admission in a school exceeds 20 students, it will be opened again. Director Public Instructions, elementary, Inderjeet Singh was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

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