300 schools on shutdown list get pat for ‘high quality’

PUBLISH DATE 26th December 2017

About 300 of the 1,314 schools slated for closure over deteriorating quality and declining enrolment have received congratulatory messages from the education department.

The pat came for securing ‘Á’grade in 'Shala Siddhi' __ a comprehensive school-evaluation tool developed by National University for Educational Planning and Administration (NEUPA).

Schools use it for a self-assessment exercise to measure quality.

Education researcher Kishore Darak said, “The education department congratulated thousands of schools for securing 'A' grade after “carrying out the self-assessment involving school management committee, head master and teachers.”

His letter to the state government says 49 schools closed in Ahmednagar district, 10 in Ghodevadi in Akole block, Dhawalevasti, Khadakai Mala, and Jagdamb Mala schools in Jamkhed block and 76 schools closed in Pune district, eight schools including Bandevasti, Jagtapvasti and Yadavvasti schools in Purandar block as well as Shindevadi, Kashing, Dattavadi schools in Mulshi block were congratulated for being “schools of high quality”.

If the 'bad schools' secured grade 'A' after using the NEUPA tool, the school closure list may be at least 20% faulty, Darak added.

As such the state should either reject NEUPA's tool and explain the parameters on which 1,300 schools are declared 'bad' schools or take action against officials who cited deteriorating quality as a reason for shutting down these schools.

Closing schools on false grounds is a serious violation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. “It casts doubt about such a step that amounts to facilitating privatization of schools by the government. Considering this glaring contradiction generated by the education department about quality of schools, the state government should cancel the decision to close these schools,” he said.

After reviewing all schools, the department decided to shift students and teaching staff from 1,314 schools to nearby schools.

Students from primary schools will be shifted to other schools within one km, while secondary school students will be transferred to a school within 3km, education minister Vinod Tawde said earlier this month.

If schools in tribal areas, remote places or on hillocks are too far and students need to travel by bus, they will not be shifted, he added.

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