Reform in primary education hangs in balance

G. Nagaraja
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Teachers, parents oppose merger of schools with weak student enrolment

Quality check:RVM Project Officer D.V. Ramamohan Rao testing a class two student of a municipal elementary school in Eluru on Wednesday.— Photo A.V.G. Prasad
Quality check:RVM Project Officer D.V. Ramamohan Rao testing a class two student of a municipal elementary school in Eluru on Wednesday.— Photo A.V.G. Prasad

The fate of reform under the Right to Education (RTE) in elementary education precariously hangs in balance in West Godavari district in the face of strong opposition from teachers and a section of stakeholders.

The maintenance of the teacher-student ratio at 1:20 is one of the key components of the reform.

The schools with 0-10 student enrolment shall be merged with the ‘main schools’ within a radius of 1 km. and the teachers engaged in those adjusted elsewhere as part of effective management of human resource pool as per the reform.

However, the aborted pilot project launched in Yalamanchili mandal of West Godavari district a couple of years ago in conformity with the teacher-student ratio enshrined in the RTE has indicated the bumpy road ahead for the reform process in the district.

The move for merger of schools with weak student enrolment met with a strong disapproval from both the teachers and the parents in most of the areas leading to failure of the project in the mandal, according to D.V. Rammohan Rao, Project Officer, Rajiv Vidya Mission. When the authorities of the Education Department attempted to close the schools with little student strength located in the SC and BC hamlets and merge them with the ‘main’ schools situated in the habitations of upper castes took a caste turn by raising the hackles of the Dalit and the BC organisations, he said. The Department of Education is getting ready to push through the reform with renewed vigour from the ensuing academic year.

Surveys carried out by the Education Department revealed that there were over 150 out of the total 2,300 schools in the district with the zero-10 student enrolment across the district, warranting rationalisation. Around 100 teachers, engaged in these schools, are to be adjusted in other schools basing on the need.

What is worrying the authorities is fast dwindling student enrolment in government schools.

The students of government schools and those from convent schools were in the order of 80:20 in the mid 1990s. Now it is 55:45 with a clear indication for an exodus to private schools.

The falling academic standards and increasing craze for convent education among the parents are cited as the reasons for the trend. Mr. Rammmohan Rao found remedy for the malady in the reform. But the State Teachers Union (STU) district secretary Prasada Raju said his union was bent upon opposing the move for closure of schools in the name of rationalisation since it would deny the children their very right to education.

  • Fast dwindling student enrolment in government schools worries authorities

  • Falling academic standards and craze for convent education cited to be the reasons for the trend

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