NEARLY 2,500 ‘non-viable’ private secondary and higher secondary schools in the state are staring at a shutdown. During a survey conducted by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) recently, several schools with students ‘below a viable number’ were identified. The survey revealed nearly 2,500 such schools, a few of which are said to not have only one student in some classes. As many as 555 schools have been identified that include those where number of students stands at a single digit figure in secondary classes.
Consent for closing 120 such schools have already been received by the school trustees. The final decision on the fate of these schools will be taken in the executive meeting of the board, scheduled on November 27.
The shutting down of such schools would result in the reduction of nearly 6,800 self-financed secondary and higher secondary schools in Gujarat that are affiliated to various boards.
Confirming the development, GSHSEB chairman A J Shah said that though the closure is not a compulsion but a recommendation has been given to the schools to rule out ‘unhealthy competition’ among themselves and cut down on non-viable costs. “It came to our notice that there are schools that are not feasible to operate due to very few number of students. Also, with mushrooming of private schools, there are several schools within a few kilometres. So we want to check unhealthy competition among such schools,” he said.
The GSHSEB, however, said that if a schools has sufficient number of students in primary classes, it can continue to operate till Class VIII. Once the final decision is taken by the board’s executive body, the schools concerned will be shut down with immediate effect.
On the future of students who are already enrolled in such schools, Shah said, “They can be shifted to nearby schools. The board will ensure that studies of not a single student is affected by the closure of the schools. It is only for the students’ good as the board aims to offer them quality education without any compromise.”
A similar move was mooted for government primary schools in 2012 and then again in 2013 to close or merge government schools with less number of students. The survey carried out in each district at that time had identified 13,450 schools with 100 or less than 100 students, 6,826 primary schools with 50 or less students. In total, there are over 33,000 primary government schools in the state. But, both the years, the move to close or merge schools was stalled after strong opposition from organisations and villagers.
The GSHSEB is the nodal agency that gives permission to open secondary and higher secondary schools, or to upgrade primary schools to secondary and higher secondary level.