Following protests by the opposition in the Assembly, the Odisha government Sunday revised its decision on merger of schools, specifically for scheduled areas.
Areas declared scheduled areas under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution with a preponderance of tribal population have a separate legal and administrative framework. Three districts in the state fall completely under the scheduled areas while nine others fall partially under it.
Clarifying the government’s stance, School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said closing down schools was never the intention. “In scheduled areas, only schools with less than 15 students will be merged with other schools. However, if anywhere any student faces difficulties, they can approach the district administration or the ministry with their grievances and their concerns will be looked into,” Dash said.
“A separate fresh list will be prepared again to ascertain the exact number. The number of such schools with less than 15 students will be around 3,000,” he added.
On Saturday, Opposition parties, including BJP and Congress, had raised the issue and accused the ruling BJD of depriving students of their right to education.
Government chief whip Pramila Mallick had said the merger is important to rationalise resources.
In March, the education department issued a notification for merger of 11,517 schools with low enrolment. The process remained incomplete due to the lockdown. Earlier this month, the department issued a follow-up to the notification, asking district administrations to expedite the process for 8,000 schools in 15 districts.
The merger is being undertaken under NITI Aayog’s Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education programme.
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