High Court Reserves Order On Validity Of Odisha Govt’s Schools’ Merger Move

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court has reserved verdict on the dispute over the legal validity of the state government’s decision to merge schools having very low enrolment with larger ones.


The School and Mass Education department of the Odisha government had issued a notification for the merger of nearly 16,000 schools on March 11, 2020. By then around 4,500 schools had already been merged.

While a single-judge bench of the High Court had quashed the notification on May 4, 2021, the state government had filed an appeal against the judgement.

A division bench had then issued an interim stay order on the singe judge’s order on July 20, 2021, TNIE reported.

The division bench of Chief Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice M S Raman reserved judgment after completing hearing on the state government’s appeal on Tuesday.

In his submissions, advocate general Ashok Kumar Parija informed that the notification was issued after a policy decision for integration of primary, upper primary and high schools with the nearby bigger schools for ensuring fully functional schools with increase in number of teachers per class and concentrated investment of resources.

As per the notification, schools with less than 20 to 40 students were to be merged with bigger schools in nearby areas. The consolidation would make schools inspirational for students and result in an improvement of pupil-teacher ratio. There would be better infrastructure facilities, better academic environment with additional facilities, e-learning and co-curricular facilities.

It was contended that the move will also improve learning and teaching time available to teachers and students through reduction in administrative burden on teachers.

Notably, the single judge bench of Justice B R Sarangi had quashed the notification while allowing a batch of 168 petitions which had challenged it on the ground that it violated the Odisha Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010.

“Instead of finding the reasons for decreasing roll strength, the merger of schools will not serve the purpose. It is just like without finding the cause of the disease, treatment has been started. There are innumerable reasons for the decreasing roll strength. Instead of eradicating the ground difficulties, a merger is taking place due to decisions taken at a higher level without realising the ground level reality”, the judge observed.

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