March 9, 2021 11:37:37 pm
Protesting against the closure of upper primary section in the government primary school in their village, residents of Timba village in Umrala taluka of Bhavangar district kept the school locked for the second consecutive day on Tuesday and threatened not to allow the lower primary section to function until the upper primary section is restored.
“The villagers locked the school in protest of the upper primary section being merged with the government primary school in the nearby Dharuka village. The merger was effected in December after government directive to close down upper primary sections in schools with fewer than 20 students if another school with higher number of students is available within the radius of three kilometres,” Archana Dhameliya, Umrala taluka primary education officer (TPEO) told The Indian Express.
The TPEO who visited the village on Tuesday said, “I persuaded residents of the village that Timba was among 5,000 schools where upper primary sections closed down as enrollments are low… However, they remained adamant and didn’t allow the school to open,” Dhameliya said, adding the lower primary section in the school has 37 students.
The TPEO said that the Dharuka school was just 2.9 km away from Timba. “I also told villagers that once they enrol their children with the upper primary section in Dharuka, government will arrange for their transport. But they were not ready to budge. Therefore, I reported the matter to Umrala mamlatdar and police sub-inspector,” said Kamaliya.
The officer added that the villagers have been protesting since early January. “They are opposed to the move since the beginning and I had visited the village on January 8 but to no avail… I will appraise the DPEO of the situation on Wednesday and discuss resolutions adopted by the Timba school management committee,” said the TPEO.
Vallabh Makwana, sarpanch of Timba village, said parents were not in favour of sending their children to another village. “Of the 12 students in the upper primary section, 11 are girls. Parents are not ready to send them to the other school by taking the road that passes through bushes and is flooded during monsoon,” Makwana told The Indian Express.
Adding that Timba has population of around 300, the sarpanch said, “If the government obliges us by keeping the school open, we shall be grateful… We have been requesting officers that the two teachers who are teaching in lower primary section be allowed to teach in upper primary also. Then the 11 girls will be able to continue their education,” said 55-year-old Makwana.
He said that residents of Timba are farmers and labourers with a few commuting between Bhavnagar and the village to work as diamond polishers. “We had made written representation to authorities about the issue a few weeks ago but nothing happened. Therefore, parents have decided not to allow the school reopen,” he added.
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