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Activists oppose closure of over 14,000 schools in Odisha

20/11/2020 at 10:35 AM

Bhubaneswar, Nov 20: Education rights activists and CSO members have opposed the state government’s move to close down more than 14,000 schools and warned the government that this will lead to increased dropout rate among children.

Recently, School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash had said the media that school closer will foster quality education. The Minister has further said that it is unfair to teach 18 to 20 children in a classroom. This has created a dissent among the education rights activists, members of CSOs and teachers association.

Naba Kishor Pujari, an education rights activist have asked the government that is there any prove that claims that closing down of school has a link with quality education.

Rather, it will create disparity and inequality among children in completing at least to the level of elementary education. This is a conspiracy prevailing in the government to demolish public education system and to give fuel to the mushrooming of private schools, he added.

The government must implement the Right to Education Act effectively, instead of closing down its schools. Public education cannot sustain by private players, rather it will push millions of children at the periphery of education. Covid19 has already posed massive challenges among children and especially for tribal, Dalit and other marginalised group children from the core of education and it’s high time that the state government should have a consultative discussion on it.

Anil Pradhan, Convener of Odisha RTE Forum also said that the decision is a regressive one and will kill the spirit of RTE Act. He said that it is always better to teach small group of children where learning outcome will be more. Secondly, he argues that if the government is firmed on the school closure with the quality of education, why children are gradually shifting away from the so called model schools which was supposed to the centre of excellent learning.

In Odisha, less than 10% schools are RTE Compliant. This means that not so much has been done to improve the education scenario in the state.

Kanhu Charan Mohanty, General Secretary of All Utkal Primary Teachers’ Federation has also opposed the government’s move and has stated it as an unfortunate decision. He said “how children will go to schools in tribal and other inaccessible areas where the merged schools are located in 3 to 5 km distance? The government’s move is a violation of the education rights of the children and the government should not implement the decision. And it seems that the government is in full swing to handover the education to the private parties and the future generation of learners will be the worst victims of it.

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