Odisha govt changes criteria for merger of schools in scheduled area

Bhubaneswar: Facing stiff opposition from the members of BJP and Congress in the State Assembly over closure of schools for poor enrollment, the Odisha government today changed the criteria for schools to be merged in the scheduled area.

In a statement, School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said schools with student strength less than 15 in tribal areas will be merged with another school in the scheduled area. The number of such schools in the State will be around 3,000, Dash added. Earlier, the State government had said schools with enrollment of less than 25 will be merged.

Dash further informed that process is on to merge 7,772 schools in the State due to the poor student strength. Less than 40 students have been enrolled at 14,382 schools in the State, he said.

Around Rs 300 crore will be spent for merger of the schools, the Minister said.

The State government is working within the purview of the law. Its priority is to provide quality education to the students, the Minister said in the statement.

Quality of education is getting affected due to the small schools. A better learning environment can be created at the big schools. The purpose is to provide primary and secondary education at one place, he added.

Earlier in the day, Government Chief Whip Pramila Mallik said in a statement in the State Assembly that the schools are being merged, not closed.

“We demand that the government should set a minimum of 15 students as its norms for schedule areas and KBK areas for the merger. Despite our demands to include KBK, the Minister did not mention it. We will raise the issue again in the House if KBK is not included,” said Narasingha Mishra, Congress legislature party leader.

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