State defends closure of schools

Defending its action to close or merge schools with student strength  less than five, the State government on Monday filed an affidavit before the High Court of Karnataka that the decision was in favour of students and aimed at creating competitiveness among them.

The State has also promised that it will reopen such schools if there was an increase in the number of students.

In its reply to the PIL filed by a few litterateurs and Jnanapith awardees, the government submitted that there are 131 primary schools across the State with zero student strength and 551 schools with less than five students and 2,480 schools with less than 10 students.

As for higher primary schools, 74 have zero strength and 380 schools have less than 10 students.

“The decision to merge the schools (with less than five students) with nearby schools is in favour of the students with an aim to develop competitiveness,” the State said in its affidavit.

It also informed the court that it will provide Rs 300 per month to those students whose schools are merged with nearby schools in a three-km radius.

“Apart from decline in competitive spirit among students in such schools, even human resources are also being wasted,” it said.

Allegation refuted

The State, which has already merged 370 Kannada schools, prayed to the court to dismiss the PIL stating that there was no basis for the allegations made by the literary persons.

The petitioners, G S Shivarudrappa, Girish Karnad, Chandrashekar Kambara and U R Ananthmurthy have challenged the closure of the schools stating thousands of students would be deprived of education if these schools were closed. They have sought directions to the State government to implement the Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 with immediate effect and frame rules under the same. They have further pointed out that Article 21(a) of the Constitution and Section 3(1) of the Right to Education Act provide for free and compulsory education to all children in neighbourhood schools.

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