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To tackle low enrollment, Tripura govt to ‘merge’ schools, claims move will improve quality

Tripura Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath said there are a host of schools which don’t have students - the number ranges from as low as 0 to 25

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: October 25, 2019 2:36:06 pm
Tripura govt, Tripura govt school, Tripura state govt school, Tripura school students, Tripura students, Tripura govt schools, Tripura school students, Tripura Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath, Ratan Lal Nath, Education News, Indian Express, Indian Express News Tripura Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath said there are a host of schools which don’t have students – the number ranges from as low as 0 to 25. Image source: Representational Image/ File

In an effort to tackle low enrollment of students and provide ‘quality education’, the Tripura cabinet decided to ‘merge’ 961 schools in different parts of the state.

Speaking to reporters, Tripura Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath said there are a host of schools which don’t have students – the number ranges from as low as 0 to 25. There are many problems in providing quality education to students in these schools, he said.

“Students don’t get inspired for education in such institutions. They lag behind in social etiquette, conversational skills, scopes for peer study, sports etc. We have decided to merge these schools”, the minister told after a cabinet meeting late evening on Thursday. The move was inspired from similar initiatives previously adopted in Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Odisha.

As per the government, 8,000 students are currently enrolled in these schools, which include 915 primary schools and 46 senior basic schools. These schools are spread across Tripura, including areas under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).

“We shall take into account opinions of students, teachers and guardians, infrastructure issues, medium of instruction, connectivity etc. before finally merging these schools”, Nath told reporters.

While many of these schools are located in distant rural areas, the government has floated a unique scheme to provide transportation fares of students and their guardians to the schools and back.

“We shall provide transport fares to students and their guardians to schools and back in case of institution which are 1-5 Km away from their residence. No fare will be provided to students enrolledf in schools less than a Km away”, the education minister informed.

As per the new scheme, students till the 5th standard and their parents will get Rs. 5 per journey with a maximum of 3 journeys a day (in case of break journeys). Students in the elementary level (class 6-8) will get Rs. 10 per day in case of institutions 3 kms away and Rs. 20 if the schools are farther. The money would be quarterly transferred to bank accounts of the guardians.

The minister informed that 1,000 students would be covered under the scheme in the current academic year with a financial involvement of Rs. 40.32 lakh. The Department of Education aims to cover 4,000 students under the scheme by 2020-21 and 3,000 more are targeted to be covered by 2022.

Earlier in July this year, the government closed down 13 schools due to shortage of students and handed over management of 20 government schools, including these 13, to a private educational trust; a move which resulted in a standoff between Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and former CM, Manik Sarkar. The government handed over management of the mid-day meal programme in a number of schools to a private trust in some rural block development areas.

Tripura currently has 4,398 government and government-aided schools apart from 335 private schools. Nearly 5 lakh students study in these schools across the state. A recent report has found that state govt spends Rs. 21,138 for educating each student in a year in the primary level and Rs. 7,600 for each student in the elementary level.

According a report of the state government, Tripura’s literacy rate now stands at 94.65 per cent. The latest figures suggest that Tripura tops the chart of states with regards to literacy rate. The state, however, is struggling with student enrollment in its schools.

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