Published: 23rd November 2020
Facing flak, Odisha government revises norms for school merger
The Minister said that 6,048 schools in the State have less than 20 enrollment, of which around 3,000 have lower than 15 students
Drawing flak from all sections over its move to close down schools on a massive scale, the State government on Sunday revised the norms for the merger of primary and upper primary schools in the scheduled and non-scheduled areas. Minister of State for School and Mass Education Samir Ranjan Dash announced the change in the decision after a day-long discussion over the issue in the Assembly. The government had agreed to a discussion in the House following strong opposition by the BJP and Congress members on Saturday.
Replying to the discussion, the Minister said, schools having less than 15 students in scheduled areas will be merged with ones in nearby locations. Similarly, in non-scheduled areas, less than 20 students has been set as the new norm for the merger of a school. In its earlier decision, the government had set less than 20 and 40 students in a school in scheduled and non-scheduled areas respectively as the norm for merger.The Minister said that the number of schools to be merged will be decided as per the changed criteria. The government will also take into account natural barriers in scheduled areas while deciding on merger, he said.
The Minister said that 6,048 schools in the State have less than 20 enrollment, of which around 3,000 have lower than 15 students. “There are less than 40 students in 14,382 schools. The process for the merger of 7,772 such schools is underway. Among these, 1,724 schools have less than 25 students and 6,048 have less than 20,” he said. However, the Opposition members were not satisfied with the reply of the minister.
Leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Narasingha Mishra said that if the changed decision of minimum 15 students is not introduced in KBK area, the issue will be raised in the House again. Deputy leader of CLP Santosh Singh Saluja alleged that the government has ruined schools in KBK areas by not posting the required number of teachers. Alleging that thousands of schools in the region will be closed, he warned that there will be wide-scale agitation if norms are not relaxed.
Deputy leader of the BJP Legislature Party Bishnu Charan Sethi said the State government’s decision to shut down 11,000 schools will be a disaster. Around 800 schools will be closed in Koraput district alone, he said.Moving the motion, government chief whip Pramila Mallick said schools are being merged to ensure quality education.