Local Goa News

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

20 govt schools shut per yr in last decade

PANAJI: The incidence of government primary schools shutting down for want of students is increasing alarmingly in Goa . Any time now, the state government will issue an order to declare 16 more closed, this after not a single student turned up at their doorstep in the first month of the new academic year 2016-17.

When the directorate of education counted the number of government primary schools in June 2016, they realised that, besides the 16 schools that had seen zilch enrolment, another 35 institutions will head in the same direction by next year. These 35 government primary schools have an enrolment of five or fewer students.
Over the last decade, 20 government schools have shut down on an average every year, bringing the total number of government primary schools in Goa down from around 1,000 a decade ago to less than 800 in 2015-16.
The education department's plan to amalgamate two or more neighbouring low-enrolment schools has been successful in the case of only a handful of cases. Largely, the state administration appears to be calmly watching as government primary schools die a slow death in Goa .
Some officials are of the opinion that the state government itself is to be blamed for this condition.
"Only recently the state government has been cautious in granting permissions for new schools to open, because of the issue of medium of instruction at the primary school level. But, until this issue arose, new, privately-managed, state-aided schools were being freely granted permission to open when a government primary school was already doing quite well in the neighbourhood," one state official said.
And, indeed, Goa has one primary school serving every three kilometres, a radius that is marginally increasing in recent years, mostly at the cost of government primary schools shutting down, while aided institutions flourish.
That the preference for aided schools is rising is clearly visible. In Tiswadi , for instance, while only 1,657 students study in 40 government primary schools, over 6,000 students preferred to study cramped into 37 aided schools.
The only areas of Goa where government schools find favour were talukas with regions so remote that students can only access government institutions due to transportation issues. In Sanguem , with only four aided schools and 56 government primary schools, students have no option but to attend the state-run institutions. The situation was similar in case of the other interior talukas of Dharbandora , Canacona and Sattari .
Times View
G overnment primary schools closing down is a wake-up call for the state's education department. It is time the government took a hard look at the reason, which, more likely than not, would be the quality of education being offered at these institutions and the lack of infrastructure. The government needs to hire teachers on merit and not solely on qualification. Schools need to have decent playgrounds, classrooms and toilets. Parents also like to see their wards trained in extracurricular activities that develops overall personality. Are government schools in Goa offering all of these? If several other states can offer excellent instruction in government schools, why not Goa?

TOI Goa News

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