Schools are being closed in Maharashtra :Preethy Sekhar
Secretary, DYFI, Maharashtra
M.S.Naula | Ground Report
The struggle to establish the ‘right to education’ as a universal right has suffered severe set-backs in the last three decades. The recent episode of closing down of 1340 goverment schools in Maharashtra is atrocious. Government has declared closure of another 4000 schools in Maharashtra.
Most of the schools being closed down belongs to very remote and economically backward area.
I would like to comment on some schools which I personally visited. One of them is the primary school in Chinchora village of Shahada Taluka in Nandurbar district. The school is made of tin sheets, hardly have any infrastructure required in schools and have 2 – 3 teachers. The school has around 100 children studying there. The upper primary school is 3 kilometres away and is even more devoid of facilities. Shahada town has a high school, but is 25 kilometres away. The school is not opted by parents since it is of very poor standards. Parents send there children to ashram shala in Dhule for better prospects.
Most of the families cannot afford to send children away to far off schools and they are bound to drop out of schools. Reports coming up from my colleagues in Pune is that most of the students in the closed down schools are thrown out of schooling system.
I had visited the school in Nagar Taluka which fell down due to heavy rain in the month of August 2017. The classroom which fell down hardly left any trace of cement and other articles. Three children died in this incident. The villagers certified that the school was in very bad shape. We found the new rooms also in a very bad shape. Neither the school authority nor Jilla Parishad authorities did nothing.
There is no supervision of infrastructure of schools in Maharashtra. This itself is leading to huge crisis. Almost all schools in the state are in worse condition. There is a deliberate attempt by the government to kill public education system. Spending on government schools has been reduced to a bare minimum.
The number of “drop outs” and “out of school” children are steadily increasing. There is 18 percent drop in the number of admissions in the primary level 2017 when compared to 2011 in Maharashtra. There is a dip of 1.28 lakh children who have taken admission to primary this year than in 2016, despite increase in population. This is an area of serious concern for us.
5 model schools under jilla parishad in Talasari of Palghar district gas been closed down recently. Gokul Education Society school and colleges are given grant to run schools freely in such tribal areas.
What we do?
We have been taking up the issue of right to education and need of preserving government schools for quite some time now. Our organization Democratic Youth Federation of India has been fighting the education administration tooth and nail to implement the provision of 25 percent free admissions in private schools of socially and economically poor children. Government has not been implementing even this provision in the RTE Act of 2009 and has been putting forward lots of hurdles in front of organisations like ours who are trying to help people get those adMissions. The struggle and hurdles in this admission process is a subject in itself.
We had a state wide morcha on 20th May 2017 at State Education office situated in Pune rising all the issues in this regard. Even though the director was sympathetic and in agreement with what we were putting up, he could not assure anything to us.
We have been working on the campaign Jatha for last 4 to 5 months on this topic and unemployment. The Jatha is now going on in enyireMaharashtra. It started on 4th February and will end on 11th February. We are trying to visit even remote villages of Maharashtra, both tribal and others and the cities and small towns with the view of building up a movement against commercialisation of education and unemployment.
We are in the preparation of building up a movement of youth and students with these agenda.