BENGALURU: It’s official now. As many as 28,847 government and aided schools across the state will shut down soon due to inadequate students strength.
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy announced in his budget speech that the schools will be “merged” with 8,530 nearby schools. The merger is the technical word used in the primary and secondary education department to mean closure.
Though the Chief Minister said the measure is being taken considering inadequate admissions, experts in the education field call it a “disastrous decision”.
Dr V P Niranjanaradhya, an expert at school education, said the Chief Minister will be known in the history for “destroying public education” by shutting down schools.
Another expert said, “Instead of announcing this move, the Chief Minister should have announced a ban on permitting new private schools or disallowing private schools within a 5-6 km radius of government schools”.
MLC Arun Shahapura was equally caustic in his reaction, saying the fund earmarked for repairing state-run schools is too meagre. “It looks like a budget to close down government schools. The CM thinks he can repair buildings of state government schools and PU colleges with `150 crore. I request him to visit over 78,000 government schools which are in pathetic conditions and later calculate the amount needed to repair them”.
Educationists working to strengthen government schools and improve the quality of education, have decided to launch a protest against the chief minister’s announcement.
However, the department of primary and secondary education plans to provide transport facility to affected students after “merger” schools to help them reach the nearest functioning schools. “There will be common points to pick up kids and drop them to schools and back,” said a senior official. But there is now word about what will happen to the infrastructure of the schools which are going to be closed down.
Allocation to education goes down
The allocation to the education sector has gone down by a percentage point compared to the last budget presented by CM Siddaramaiah. Kumaraswamy has allocated 11 of the total budget outlay to the sector as against 12 per cent by Siddaramaiah. As most of the allocation goes to salaries of teachers, the department needs more funds for various schemes and projects.
What’s new and what’s old
Though opening of LKG/UKG classes in government schools is proposed in the budget, it is already being done at select schools on a pilot basis