Neither teachers nor funds: How the government is failing its own schools

SDMC members say grants not being released, plan to protest in January

Neither teachers nor funds: How the government is failing its own schools

Shortage of teachers and delay in release of funds have crippled the functioning of government schools across Karnataka. Over the last two years, more and more government schools have closed down, students have dropped out and an increasing number of institutions have just one teacher each.

A state-level meeting of the School Development Monitoring Committee (SDMC) members here on Sunday took stock of the infrastructure crisis affecting government schools. The SDMC Co-ordination Forum has decided to take up a state-wide agitation in January against “government apathy”. The meeting was organised by the Centre for Child and Law, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru.

Describing the state of affairs, Shobha Bhaskar, an SDMC member from Kabettu, Karkala in Udupi district, said the government had failed to release the school grant (meant for stationery) and maintenance grant this academic year. The situation is so bad that principals and SDMC members were spending from their own pockets to buy necessities such as chalk piece and get minor repairs done to schools.

In their school, the headmaster paid Rs 9,000 out of his own pocket to get repairs done for the school. “In several schools, paying telephone and electricity bills has become a problem as the government has not released the funds. We cannot risk electricity dues as children may skip classes if fans are not running,” she said. Computers are not working either in several schools. So, there are no computer classes, she added.

564 Kannada schools shut

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Niranjanaradhya V P, Fellow, Centre for Child and Law, NLSIU, said the government had shut down 564 Kannada-medium schools in the last two years. In sharp contrast, it has permitted 1,187 English-medium schools.
Then, the number of single-teacher schools is increasing. The government has been patching up the situation by hiring para teachers (based on honorarium) and contract teachers. But even these teachers have not been paid for the last three months, he pointed out.

The enrolment in government schools is coming down with 1,56,891 students dropping out in the last two years. The enrolment among marginalised communities has come down, too. Among Scheduled Castes (SCs), it has gone down to 19 per cent from 20.2 per cent, among Scheduled Tribes (STs), it has dropped to 7.8 per cent from 8.1 per cent and among Muslims it has decreased from 15.8 per cent to 14.4 per cent, he added.

The SDMC Forum has demanded that the government set right the lacunae immediately by hiring permanent teachers and releasing the necessary funds. 

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