‘20 ashram schools shut down’


As many as 20 of the 91 ashram schools run by the Department of Social Welfare have been shut down this academic year, according to Dalit activists. But, government officials claim that the schools have been shifted as the attendance of students in certain schools had dipped in the wake of implementation of Right to Education Act.

Speaking to reporters in Bangalore on Thursday, Mavalli Shankar of the Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) contested the official claims and said that the government’s own records show that there were children in the schools. Citing the example of an ashram school in Hoskote taluk, Mr. Shankar said that the school had been closed down, though there were 50 students.

“Where would these children go now?” Mr. Shankar asked and said that government policy will restrict education to the rich people. Ashram schools offer education to students from classes I to V.

Though several meetings were held with the Social Welfare Department officials to facilitate the reopening of the closed ashram schools, the efforts did not bear any fruit. The government officials claimed that the schools had to be shut down as they were very few students.

“Instead of shutting down schools, the government should be proactive and conduct surveys to find out why students are not coming. Shutting down schools is not the solution,” Mr. Shankar said.

An official from the Department of Social Welfare told The Hindu that several students, who were going to ashram schools, had preferred private schools that had opened up for them under Right to Education (RTE) Act. Hence, admission in ashram schools has fallen, he said.

“The government has taken a conscious decision that wherever the strength of students is less, we will shift them and accommodate them in another school,” the official said and added that teachers will be shifted to schools where there were more students to impart quality education.

The official, however, said that it was the government’s responsibility to ensure that all children are in school.

Principal Secretary, Department of Social Welfare, E. Venkataiah said that teachers have been shifted to schools where there was a requirement.

The few students of ashram schools will be accommodated in nearby schools, he added.

However, the samiti is planning to take out a procession from the Town Hall to the Chief Minister’s residence here on July 23 and stage protests in 29 districts seeking reopening of all ashram schools.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 7:08:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/20-ashram-schools-shut-down/article3658765.ece

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