With the government closing down or merging schools that have low enrolment, many are expressing concern that this might lead to “privatisation” of the primary education sector.

Since 2011–12, the government has closed down or merged 138 government primary schools in Tumkur district — 109, including two ashram schools, in the Tumkur education district, and 29, including three ashram schools, in the Madhugiri education district.

In the Tumkur education district, 60 schools were closed down during in 2011–12, 47 in 2012–13 and six schools were closed down in 2013–14.

According to writer and editor of Hosathu magazine G. Ramakrishna, the government is “escaping from its responsibility” of providing free and compulsory primary education by closing down government schools. The government is trying to slowly privatise the education sector by closing down these schools. He said there was a perception that government schools were meant for only children from poor families or those from the lower strata of society. Many parents want their children to study in English-medium schools because they think it would help them in the future, Dr. Ramakrishna said.

He sought to know why the government was issuing licences to start English-medium schools on every street. He alleged that many such schools did not have buildings or playgrounds. In spite of such poor infrastructure, parents admit their children to such schools, he said.

Dr. Ramakrishna said government school teachers had been burdened with a lot of writing work and were being drafted to count people, animals, trees and for other works. Implementing uniform education policy would help solve problems in the primary education sector, he said. By providing good infrastructure and quality teachers, the authorities could attract children to government schools, he added.

Gowramma of Purlehalli in Sira taluk said, “I stopped sending my daughter to school as she would have had to go all the way to Mosarukunte village nearly 2 km away after the government school in our village was closed down.”

Vice-Chancellor of Tumkur University A.H. Rajasab told The Hindu, “The State must provide 50 per cent reservation in jobs to those who have studied in Kannada medium up to 10th standard.” It was unfortunate that Kannada-medium (government) schools were being closed down, he said. If this continues, it would spell doom for Kannada language, folklore and culture, he said.

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