Odisha News Insight

ActionAid organises Round Table Discussion on School Closures in Bhubaneswar

ActionAidBhubaneswar, Dec 28: A round table discussion on schools closure was organized  by Action Aid here on Saturday.

A fact finding report carried out by the Child rights Knowledge and Activist Hub of ActionAid enlightened that schools like Mallickpada Primary School, Kandhmal (school code: 21210624201, student strength: 23), Modipara Upper Primary School, Sambalpur (school code: 21031401703/ 21031401704, student strength:9), Dhabakhol Primary School, Sundargarh (school code: 21051704501, student strength:6), Barabakhara Project PS (Bichhuan), Bargarh (school code: 21010106701, student strength:9) are having more than 5 students but closed.

It is decided to merge the schools with the nearby schools. The distance of the nearby schools from the schools to be closed like Mallickpada Primary School, Kandhmal (school code: 21210624201, distance to the nearby school: 3 KM), Kurumuni Primary School, Kandhmal (school code: 21210606601, distance to the nearby school: 5 KM), Jharpani Primary School, Sundargarh (school code: 21050101804, distance to the nearby school: 3 KM), Gunangbali Primary School, Rayagada, (school code: 21270306101, distance to the nearby school: 3 KM), Dhabakhol Primary School, Sundargarh (school code: 21051704501, distance to the nearby school: 4 KM) are more than one kilometre and having natural barriers like nallah, hills and forest which violate the spirit of ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009’.

Some of the members of the District SSA committee also revealed that they are not aware of such meeting held on school closure. In her letter no 3548/ SME dt 21.2.2015 SmtUshaPadhee, Commissioner – cum – Secretary, Govt of Odisha, School and Mass Education Department mentioned about the conditions of school closure like a) Schools if are closed in Tribal and difficult terrain then alternative arrangements to ensure access to be made thro’ transport facility, attaching a SS to bring the children to schools etc. b) DPCs of the concerned schools are to take personal responsibility to ensure that these children don’t drop – out. c) Villagers may be assured that, if there are required numbers of students the school will start operating again. d) Infrastructure created if any, is to be handed over to the concern GP, and as per the requirement of the villagers Infrastructure is to be managed. Nowhere these conditions have been followed before and/ or after closure of the schools.

No meetings were organised either of the SMCs and / or of the Pallisabha/ Gram sabha (Villagers) to discuss on the school closure, merger with nearby schools, provision of transport facility and SS, handing over the infrastructure and possibility of reoperation of the schools. The AnganWadiCentres feeding the enrolment of the primary schools like in Jharpani Primary School, Sundargarh (School Code: 21050101804, enrolled children: 21), Padhantikra Primary School, Bargarh (School Code:21010402305, enrolled children: 13, Dhabakhol Primary School, Sundargarh, (School Code: 21051704501, enrolled children: 25) are having good numbers of children ensuring increase enrolment in the coming years have not been considered during taking the decision of closure of schools.

The villagers of Mallikpada of Kandhmal district in a pallisabha resolution mentioned that in none of the years the school has less than five students whereas the school finds a place in the list of closed schools. Media has reported on closure of Barapahad Primary Schools of Bargarh district reflecting a possible impact on the aspiration of children.

The case of Mali pada of Kandhamal and Barpahad of Bargarh are not in isolation. There may be similar such situation in most of the schools mentioned in the list. That out of the 165 schools, most of the schools are in schedule areas and no one has thought it proper to consult with the Gramsabha before taking a decision to close the school, which violate the spirit of Panchyat Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act.

If the schools will closed many children will be deprived of primary education which ultimately violates the basic child rights and the spirit of RtE. Hence the Government should consider conducting an independent assessment of each school on impact of school closure. Till that necessary direction to the Department of School and Mass Education should be issued not to close and take admission for the current session.

In this round table discussion    Director of Elementary education Chudamaniseth, Educationist MohitaMohanty, Regional manager of Action aid Debabrat Patra, Programme manager SudattaKhuntia & Ghasiram Panda spoke  on this occasion.

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