Teachers, Parents Protest Move To Close Down 14000 Govt Schools In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Teachers and guardians have expressed resentment over the Odisha government’s decision to close down nearly 14,000 state-run schools.

General Secretary of the Odisha Secondary School Teachers’ Association (OSSTA), Prakash Chandra Mohanty said the School and Mass Education Department has decided to merge some schools with poor turnout of students with nearby institutions and close down the remaining ones.

Mohanty said realising the need for education, the state government had given permission for the opening of schools. While some schools were set up by the government, the people had set up others by donating land and providing construction materials, he added.

“However, in course of time, the government with some dishonest education administrators gave a carte blanche for the opening of private schools with no infrastructure and trained teachers. Such is the influence of these private schools that they have now managed to open more schools with one no-objection certificate (NOC). As the government had no specific rules for the management of the private schools, the number of students in the government schools came down gradually as the government did not appoint the teachers. Instead of taking necessary steps, the government has now decided to permanently close down some government schools and merge some schools in the nearby government schools,” Mohanty said.

Similarly, an association of guardians have criticised the notification issued by the Odisha Schools Education Programme Authority (OSEPA) in August to invite applications for the opening of new private schools.

President of the Odisha Abhibhabak Mahasangh, Basudev Bhatt claimed that the notice is meant to close as many as 14,000 government-run schools. He further alleged that District Education Officers (DEOs) have already finished the formalities in this regard.

Bhatt said as the private schools are functioning in the vicinity of these 14,000 government-run schools, a majority of students of the government schools have shifted to the private schools. The opening of the new private schools will further bring down the number of students in government schools.

“The undue favour of the government to the private schools will deprive lakhs of poor students of getting access to the government schools and put additional burden on the families forcing them to enrol their children in the private schools by paying the hefty fees,” he said.

He added that the Mahasangh has requested the Chief Minister to direct the School and Mass Education Department to withdraw the notification forthwith, failing which the Mahasangh will launch a mass agitations in the state.

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