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485 schools with less than five children closed

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empty benches: There are too few students at some government primary schools in the State.
empty benches: There are too few students at some government primary schools in the State.

Bageshree S.

Bangalore: As many as 485 government-run lower primary schools across Karnataka were closed down in 2009-2010 because they had less than five children enrolled in them.

Is it the attraction towards English medium of instruction that is weaning children away from government-run Kannada schools, even as the Karnataka Government is fighting a case on medium of instruction in the Supreme Court? In response to an unstarred question by MLA N.A. Haris in the Assembly session, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri admitted that this was a factor in urban centres. But he said a different set of reasons had led to declining strength in government schools in villages.

He said that the decision to start schools within one-km radius of every habitation had resulted in the reduction of enrolment in some schools. He said primary schools with less than five students had been “temporarily shut down” and the students given a transport allowance (maximum of Rs. 250) to continue education in the next nearest school.

The Minister also said that as many as 782 schools have a student strength of between six and 10. At an SSA governing council meeting held earlier this year, concerns were raised over these schools, but a decision had been made not to close them immediately.

Instead it was decided to “investigate the reasons for falling enrolment in these schools”.

The decision to shut down schools with less than five children was taken at the same meeting because they “fail to provide a learning environment, thereby leading to a possibility of lowering the quality of education”.

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