CM's school merger plan faces hitches

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy may be firm on fulfilling his budget announcements, but the education department has been forced to stall his plans to merge schools with low enrolment owing to practical difficulties. 

Less than half the number of schools that were proposed to be merged would be integrated with the others as a number of challenges are involved in having to move students elsewhere. This move invited severe criticism both from education experts and the opposition.

In his recent budget, Kumaraswamy had announced that both government and aided schools which are located within a one-kilometre radius and with low enrolments will be merged with the nearest schools.

He had specified that 28,847 schools with low admissions have been identified and would be merged with 8,530 nearest schools. The chief minister said this had been proposed to ensure quality education.

The announcement drew severe criticism from a large section of the society as it was believed that “merger” of schools amounted to shutting them down.

A top official from the department of education, however, confirmed to DH that this would not be possible and that only 8,000 schools out of the 28,847 could be merged as there were several challenges.

Sources in the education department explained that for these schools to be merged, in several cases, there were no schools within the one-kilometre radius. This could make it mandatory for the education department to provide transport for these children to reach schools. However, there was not enough budgetary allocation for this. In a few other cases, these schools had a shortage of staff due to which the proposal could not be implemented.

Previously, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education N Mahesh had said that the government would merge 3,450 schools in the state as they had low admissions and were single-teacher schools. The state has 21,225 primary schools in all.

He was of the opinion that maintaining such schools would be costly and that the same amount could be channelised into providing quality education to students.

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CM's school merger plan faces hitches

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