BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has decided to close down as many as 165 primary schools with less than or just five students by October 31.
Official sources said Rayagada district has the highest number of 19 primary schools with less than five students followed by 11 each in Ganjam and Gajapati districts and 10 in Sundargarh district. Cuttack and Khurda districts also have four schools each where less than five students have been admitted in this academic year.
The issue was reviewed by School and Mass Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra at a recent meeting in the Secretariat where a decision was taken to admit students of the closed down schools in the nearby primary schools.
With the Department facing problem of massive shortage of teachers because of vacancies of over 70,000, steps will also be taken in phases to close down primary schools having less than 25 students.
The State Government has identified 12,409 such primary schools where less than 25 students have been enrolled during the current academic year.
While 5,813 schools have less than 25 students, less than 20 students have taken admission in 3,716 schools. Number of schools having less than 15 students is 1,965 while there are 750 schools which have below 10 students.
The Department started reviewing the student strength after huge funds remained unutilised at the school management committee level hampering the implementation of several schemes.
Surprisingly, several schools having less than 25 students have three to four teachers.
The Department has asked the district project coordinators of the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) to identify such schools by the first week of November. Surplus teachers will be attached to primary schools in the nearby areas having more students.