Under rationalization plan, Himachal mulls closing 743 schools

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Shimla: Drawing up norms of minimum student strengths in schools, the government intends to close down 743 elementary schools that have a total strength of less than 10 students and intend to merge them with neighboring ones by providing distance allowance to the affected children.

Making the disclosure at an ‘Education Conclave’ organised by the NGO Ashadeep here today that debated upon ‘Education in Himachal Pradesh: Reality and Direction’, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said, “to bring about qualitative changes, the government was considering to rationalize schools were the teacher taught ratio’s was grossly deficient.”

He said, “a recent survey had shown that there were 743 elementary schools with a total strength of less than 10 students. In such institutions, there is not enough of a peer group environment to imbibe competitiveness for students to learn.”

“The government was considering merging these 743 schools with a neighboring school and providing for distance allowances or a conveyance to the affected students to access the neighbouring school and avail better education,” said Dhumal.

The chief minister pointed out that whereas the central budget was yet to achieve its target of 6% percent allocation on education, the state was spending as much as 17 percent on education and precious resources need to be utilized optimally.

Sources in the elementary education department revealed that draft rules for implementing the Right to Education Act in the state had been prepared and had been circulated in the government for gauging the financial implications involved.

The draft rules provide for norms such as distance at which one elementary school should be distanced from another, said a department official.

Where rationalization of schools should become necessary and some institutions need to be closed, the draft rules propose handing out a distance allowance or providing transport services so that under Right to Education every child can access a school, said the official.

Editor-Reporter with Hill Post, Ravinder Makhaik as a journalist has for over two decades worked for India’s leading newspapers and television networks.

1 Comment

  • Anil Chandel says:

    Finally, some talk of rationalisation! Thanks to NGO Ashadeep, for organizing the Education Conclave and to the CM for talking of brining about qualitative changes in education.

    I am sure, the concerned department will do necessary analysis on the impact such school closures will have on kids and costs & benefits thereof, to the state’s finances.

    Every little bit of fiscal responsbility helps.

    I think, the state’s functioning overall needs rationalisation and not just the school system.

    The state recently announced 400 Cr for establishing/upgrading higher/vocational education facilities, whereas, another recent news was that there were few takers of seats in the state’s private engineering colleges (e.g. 1500+ applied against 4000 or so seats). In this situation, does it make sense to start new educational facilities, unless there is a direct impact on the state’s unemployment situation? May be the state can put a portion of that 400 Cr, to a better use.

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