Even as the authorities have been claiming an increase in enrolment in Gujarat government schools, the decision to open 107 new government secondary schools in the 2020-21 academic session has been put on hold.
Officials are citing fund crunch behind the move and said even the option of operating these schools from existing government primary schools has been ruled out. Worst affected will be children of rural and tribal areas where these 107 schools were approved to be opened.
Confirming the move, Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama told The Indian Express, “Due to fund crunch amid Covid-19 pandemic, the decision to open these new schools has been kept on hold. We will work on it and decide what can be done.”
The education department in its Government Resolution (GR) on December 10, 2019, had approved 118 government secondary schools in non-tribal and tribal areas, depending on the demand. Of these, 107 were to open this academic session.
On June 17, 2020, the education department issued a letter to all district education officers, directing them to open these secondary schools with immediate effect, from existing buildings of government primary schools.
However, the next day, the education department issued a letter stating that “until further instructions from the department, the instructions issued on June 17, 2020 has to be kept on hold…” with immediate effect.
District Education Officer (DEO), Ahmedabad rural, Rakesh Vyas, said, “We were informed to keep it on hold till any further directions from the state government.”
Three schools in Ahmedabad district in Dhandhuka, Dholka and Dholera talukas were sanctioned under these 107 secondary schools.
Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “Already the state government is all set to merge over 7,000 government primary schools and now it wants to deprive rural and tribal students of secondary education with this irresponsible decision. The state government had announced the opening of these schools in the state assembly and now has quietly ordered to keep it on hold.”
Apart from rural and interior areas, 24 of the 107 schools approved were to be opened in the tribal areas of Banaskantha, Panchmahal, Valsad, Patan, Navsari, Dang, Dahod and Chhota Udepur.
There are nearly 10,910 secondary schools in the state of which 1,255 are government run, 4,275 are private and 5,335 grant-in-aid schools.
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