Though it has been quite some time since the academic year began, many students and parents are still going through anxious moments. The reason being the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to partly merge 5,900 primary and upper primary schools with high schools in the State. The intention, it asserts, is to improve the quality of education as per the guidelines of the National Education Policy. But then, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The decision as such need not be faulted. High schools have better infrastructure and as the government clarified, “it is a merger of classes rather than schools”—meaning only students from class III to V will be shifted to nearby high schools. On paper, the idea looks good. In practice, it has thrown up hundreds of complaints from dismayed parents. Approximately 2.4 lakh students are being moved to high schools and in this process, complaints pertaining to increased distance and separation of siblings to different schools, and importantly, skewed number of teacher-student ratio have been pouring in from several districts.
The high schools do have infrastructure but they are finding it difficult to cope with the sudden arrival of hundreds of students. Fears of closure of primary and upper primary schools are also gripping the parents despite assurances to the contrary. This massive exercise comes in the wake of the migration of more than seven lakh students from private to government schools during the pandemic.
As per officials, 5,870 schools have been merged across the State, and the process to address hundreds of complaints is in progress. In hindsight, it appears the government ought to have carried this out in phases after taking parents into confidence. It is unfair on parents and students to make them run for no fault of theirs.
Though the government claims students can join a school of their choice, the situation is different on the ground, forcing many to turn to private schools. At least now, the education department should make this merger transparent and hassle-free and in cases where the high schools are overwhelmed, it should be rolled back. It cannot drag this on for months to come.