DESPITE THE Punjab government’s repeated assurances that a 130-year-old government-aided school at Bajwara, Hoshiarpur, will not close to make way for an Armed Forces Preparatory Institution (AFPI), nearly 600 students of the school have received letters asking them to take admission in other institutions.
The Sardar Bahadur Amin Chand (SBAC) School, which students from poor and lower middle-class families attend, would be automatically closed if all students are shifted out. Around 600 students have received letters issued by the district education officer (DEO), (copies of which are available with The Indian Express) asking them to take admission in half dozens government schools located in a 2-3 km radius of their school, because the process of closing the Bajwara school is under consideration of the Punjab government.
The Indian Express had in September last year carried a report on the possible closure of the school after procuring correspondence between the PWD and other government departments. Earlier correspondence of the education and PWD departments had revealed that the process for shifting the students and subsequent construction of an AFPI at Bajwara, Hoshiarpur, would start from the coming academic session. However, the over a century old heritage school building will not be demolished and be used with some altercations.
Curiously, one of the schools listed among the options for students to transfer too, the Government Senior Secondary School (Boys) Ghanta Ghar, has been converted into a co-ed school in no time to adjust the students of SBAC. A letter in this regard had been issued on May 1.
RTI Activist Rajiv Vashisth, who is leading Bajwara School Bachao Andolan (BSBA), said the education department is leaving no stone unturned to shift the students. “A teacher of the Bajwara school even got 30 students of SBAC admitted in a government school located in Piplanwala village, which is over 10 km from Bajwara and also was not on the list of schools by mentioned by the DEO in the letter,” he added.
“They made it sure that the letter was received by each student even at a time like this so that more and more students get enrolled in other government schools in new academic session and the department will get enough reason to close it when students will not take admission here,” said Vashisth, alleging that even several students who have participated in the protest against the closure of the school a few months ago were failed in their respective classes.
Never said school can’t be closed: DC
While DEO Mohan Singh Lehal did not respond to queries despite repeated attempts, Hoshiarpur Deputy Commissioner Apneet Rayit said it was never said that the school cannot be closed as it was under the government’s consideration that time.
“The school is run by a trust and it is the prerogative of the trust to take any decision about it. By sending letters to the students, the education department has given the students the option to take admission in government schools at the beginning of the session so that if trust takes any decision mid-session, it may not be in the interest of the students,” the DC added.
After a student protest in February this year, Tehsildar Harminder Singh had given them a written assurance that, “I on the behalf of Deputy Commissioner Hoshiarpur, assure the students of SBAC SSS Bajwara that there is no plan of closing or shifting this school…”
School principal Ram Murti Sharma said that they are going to go by the government’s decision.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines