Odisha govt. modifies school closure criterion after protests

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On Sunday, the Naveen Patnaik government changed the criteria for closing schools following criticism from opposition lawmakers and the general public.

The Bharatiya Janata party and Congress blocked the work of the Assembly demanding the withdrawal of the school closure notice on Saturday.

There are 67,000 schools, including 52,000 schools under the School and Mass Education Department in Odisha.

The government has announced the closure of schools with fewer than 20 students statewide. If there are two schools within one kilometer, schools with enrollments of less than 25 in time zones and 40 in non-time zones would have been closed. No less than 7,772 schools were threatened with closure.

Move opposite

Opposition parties strongly opposed this decision. Chief Congresswoman Tara Prasad Bahinipati had announced that she would end her life in the Assembly if the decision was not overturned.

They said closing schools would lead to an increase in the dropout rate. Due to huge natural barriers, it was not possible for small children to travel even a kilometer away, opposition leaders said.

“The closure of schools is not an intention of the government. We have now decided to close schools with less than 15 students in the planning area. Previously, the criterion was 25, ”said Samir Ranjan Dash, Minister of Schools and Mass Education. Mr Dash, however, said the criteria for closing schools for children under 20 remained unchanged.

“The ‘one size fits all’ decision will exclude thousands of children living in an inaccessible region from accessing education. The government must review the policy and decide to close schools on a case-by-case basis, ”said Umi Daniel, social activist.



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