Amid the decision of the Punjab government to shut down primary schools, comprising less than 20 students, throughout the state, Chandigarh Newsline visited some of the schools situated in the rural areas of Mohali and interacted with students, school teachers and other staff members.
Government Primary School Mundo Bhag Singh
Distance: About 5-6 km from Kurali
Total number of students: 19
Total no. of teachers: 2
Students are seen playing in the small school located adjacent to a pool during their recess period. They are least bothered about shifting or the school being shut down. School in-charge K Kaur says they are yet to receive any official order about the issue. The school is proposed to be merged with GPS Bhanupali. When Chandigarh Newsline spoke to one Jaswant Singh, a resident of Mundo Bag village, on the merging of the school, he said, “I got to know that the schools having less than 20 students will be shut down from media. My son studies in the same school. Government has decided to merge schools, but it will be difficult to shift the children to schools located 1 km away. They won’t be able to cover the distance two times a day everyday.”
“A bus ply only three times a day. Having a population of around 650 people, nearly 150 children fall in the age group of 6-15 years. Those who can afford, send their children outside the village or to private schools. Children from the near poultry farm area is totally dependent on this school for education. Shutting down of the school will adversely impact these poor children who hails from the lower middle class families and whose parents are migrant labourers,” adds Jaswant.
Echoing similar view, the sarpanch of the village said, “Students coming from the labour class, lower income family will stop sending their children so far. The younger ones can still commute on their bicycles, but how will smaller ones go so far everyday?The government should think over such things. I will make sure that number of students increase. I will never let the school to be shut down.”
Government Primary School Rampur Tapprian
Distance: About 6.5 km from main Kurali
Total number of students: 6
Total no. of teachers: 1
Falling under the Kurali block in Mohali, the school in Rampur Tapprian is set be merged with GPS Mullanpur Sodhian, which is located about 1.2 km away from the village. The estimated numbers of schoolgoing children are 20-22 in the village out of which 6 students have got admission in the government primary school. Other children go to a private school in Kurali for better education. Jaswinder Kaur, school in-charge, says, “We have not received any official notice of the merger of the schools yet. We got to know about it from television and newspaper reports. There are only six students studying in the school. We came to know that pre-nursery classes were be started before the merging process till last of November. Claiming that the merger is a good idea, she adds, “There are around 20-25 houses in this village. In a survey conducted during the start of the session, the total number of children were only 8. I have been teaching here for last 6-7 years. Merger of such schools is a good idea as the number of students are low as very few children take admission here. Most of children study in private schools outside the village.”
Kaur further says , “Half of the session is yet to be completed and complete set of books have not been provided to the students yet. I have arranged books from my own so that I can teach the students. I think this school should be merged with a big school because total numbers of students are very less.” Public view on school shut down Despite having a low income, Raju, an auto driver, sends his children to a private english medium school in Kurali. As his son is too young to commute by his own, he drops him to the school every morning and picks him up later.
When asked about shutting down of 800 schools in Punjab, he says, “Government schools should not be there. On the one hand, government opens school everywhere when it comes of quality of education, but infrastructure are the poorest. Parents are forced to send their children to private schools despite a having low income.” Comparing the quality of education in government and private schools, he says, “My niece studies in Class 10 in a government school near our village. Still, he finds it difficult to write a sentence even in Punjabi. My son is in Class 5, yet he can write and speak Punjabi and English well.”
“Shutting down of schools will have an impact on those families only who cannot afford or struggle for the education of their children. Otherwise , people opt for public schools. School teachers in a government school also prefer to send their children to a private school for better education. This is the biggest failure of government in the field of education.” says Raju.