Staff Reporter

Parent schools don’t have infrastructure 178 schools closed between 1991 and 2000

HYDERABAD: The decision came as a bolt from the blue. District Collector Naveen Mittal terms it as ‘academic clubbing’, but others scoff it as ‘administrative juggling’. The announcement of clubbing schools was taken on the sly without consulting the stakeholders, teachers allege.

Lack of immediate access will dissuade many poor students, particularly girls, from attending school, they say.

“Many girl students work as housemaids. They drop in to study once they are done with the chores. If the school is far away, parents will stop sending them,” says K. Supriya, co-convener of PUCAAR. Girls’ schools merged with boys’ schools will increase complications.

In many cases, parent schools do not have sufficient infrastructure to support the mergers. For example, the Telugu Medium Primary School at Filmnagar with 208 students and three classrooms will have to accommodate 545 more students in its premises. The single room school at Karmika Nagar will have 35 more children added to its 60, while the one at Lallapet with five rooms and 230 students will add 400-plus students.

In view of large scale migrations to city, the decision should be to relocate the schools and not to merge them, says P. Indrajit, city president of UTF. “460 slums within the city peripheries do not have a primary school. We have asked the Collector to relocate the schools there, but he refused,” he says.

A city map prepared by Satyam Foundation shows government schools clustered in many areas. However, it has no account of private schools. Indrajit says many private schools will disappear if the distance limit is imposed.

Unlike private schools, government schools lack in strength. Remedy lies in making the schools more attractive rather than closing them down. “Post 1991, government’s sole aim is to reduce burden on the exchequer. As a result, recruitment of maths, physics and English teachers has stopped for many years. Lack of infrastructure and maintenance plagues primary schools. Teachers are unofficially juggled between primary and high schools. All these issues have reduced the popularity of government schools,” Ms. Supriya analyses. Indeed, between 1991 and 2000, as many as 178 schools were closed down in the city. Many more were forced to huddle in a single building. About 120 schools lacked toilets while 230 did not have drinking water. Furniture is virtually nonexistent.