Jharkhand puts proposed merger of over 6,000 middle schools on hold
The Jharkhand government has put the merger of proposed 6,466 middle schools (classes 6 to 8) on hold, till the impact assessment of the already merged 4,600 primary schools gets completed, officials said on Tuesday.
Chief minister Raghubar Das, during a review meeting on Monday, had asked the human resource development (HRD) department officials to stop the procedure of merging more schools for time being and conduct an impact assessment of earlier merged schools.
“We have been asked to put the merger of phase-3 and phase-4 on hold and conduct impact assessment of phase-2 merger by a third party. He (CM) also directed to submit the impact assessment report to the government,” said Jharkhand Education Project Council (JEPC) director Uma Shankar Singh.
Singh said they have already roped in Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ranchi, to conduct an impact assessment of merged primary schools in Jharkhand.
JEPC sources said the IIM, Ranchi, would see if the reorganisation of schools brought any benefits to students as well as the education system. The institute would also evaluate if the initiative brought any improvement in students’ education, who were shifted to other schools during the merging process.
State HRD department had issued a notification in November last year proposing to merge 6,466 middle schools having less than 100 students. Initially, 3,732 middle schools having less than 50 students were to be undertaken for merger, the process for which started in December.
The department officials had said the merger was an effort to provide quality education to students in a better educational ambience.
The exercise of merging schools with low enrolment has been undertaken by Rajasthan and Jharkhand in the country with the support of Union government and NITI Aayog. Jharkhand had started the merging procedure in 2016-17 and it has merged 4,600 primary schools so far.
However, opposition parties, who have been raising their voice against the school merger, termed it as an election stunt to pacify the protest within the ruling NDA before the elections in Jharkhand and have demanded to scrap school merger decision.
“Putting the merger plan on hold is nothing but an election stunt. Since BJP parliamentarians and legislators have also been protesting the school merger, government decided to put it on hold to shade its negative image during the upcoming elections,” said JMM spokesperson and Baharagora legislator Kunal Sarangi.
Congress spokesperson Lal Kishor Nath Shahdeo said, “The government should completely scrap the school merger decision and re-open all the primary schools merged in past two years. Government should not play politics at the cost of children’s education.”
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