More than 1,300 government schools in which less than 10 students are enrolled face closure owing to a lack of demand in their areas, said state Education Minister Vinod Tawde. He said the 1,314 schools would only be closed after their students and teachers are transferred to other nearby schools.
The school education department has identified 4,353 government schools and 69 private schools which have less than 10 students enrolled in them. There are around 28,412 students in these 4,422 schools. To shift these students to other schools would require more infrastructure, and hence not all of these schools will be closed immediately, Tawde said. So far, only 1,314 schools have been identified from where students and teachers will be shifted out.
“No teacher will lose a job and no student will be deprived of school education. The students and teachers from these 1,314 schools will be shifted to schools with good grades, where the performance of students is good,” said Tawde.
While only one school faces closure in the Mumbai metropolitan region, 103 schools will be shut in Raigarh and 32 in Palghar. A total of 192 schools will shut down in Ratnagiri and 155 in Sindhudurg.
The Right to Education Act, 2001, allows the closure of schools where the enrollment is below 20. The state government had conducted a survey to identify schools where the demand is low. It then identified 5,002 schools with low enrollment figures. Of these, 580 schools belong to the tribal department, social justice department or are unaided or self-aided. A decision on the future of such schools is pending.
The decision to shut 1,314 schools with dipping demand comes close on the heels of a government resolution to shut non-performing self-financed schools. On July 14, the school education department had issued a government resolution stating that self-financed schools that fail to reach Grade A status within three years of getting approval will face closure. Once approved, the schools must achieve Grade A status — a performance indicator of schools based on factors such as attendance and students’ performance — failing which the school will be shut down, the resolution had said.