BHUBANESWAR: Even though the State Government increased the budget provision of School and Mass Education department by Rs 2,200 crore during 2014- 15, the state of primary education continues to remain dismal as nearly 17 per cent of primary schools have less than 25 students.
Amid such a state of affairs, the Government has directed School and Mass Education department to conduct a field survey to ascertain the actual student strength in these schools. The dismal state of primary education in Odisha was revealed by a recent report of Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA).
The report stated that out of 73,000 primary and upper primary schools in the State, 12,409 have less than 25 students. Acting on the report, the Government has issued showcause notices to 165 primary schools having less than five students for closure by October 31.
Only two schools from Jharsuguda district having less than five students have responded to the showcause notice from the department. The district project co-coordinators (DPCs) working under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) have been asked to ensure that reply to the showcause issued to the schools are received by October 31.
The report of dwindling student strength in primary schools has come when the department is reeling under 70,000 vacancies of teachers and other posts. Besides, over Rs 460 crore provided for different schemes to attract students to schools are yet to be utilised. The budget provision of the department was increased from Rs 7,142.38 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 9,327.12 crore in 2014-15. A provision of Rs 1,500 crore was made under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) in 2014-15, while Rs 792.73 crore was allotted for mid day meal (MDM) scheme.