NHRC issues notice to the Government of Maharashtra over its reported decision to close down about 1300 Zila Parishad schools due to lack of students and poor education standards (27.12.2017)

PRESS RELEASE

New Delhi, 27th December, 2017
The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Government of Maharashtra through its Chief Secretary after taking suo motu cognizance of a media report that its Education Department has decided to close down Zila Parishad schools with less than 10 students and shift them to other nearby schools. The State Government has been given four weeks for a detailed report in the matter.
The Commission has observed that the reported decision of the State Education Department would adversely affected the students, particularly, those coming from the rural background and cannot afford education in private schools. The Commission is of the opinion that before implementation of this decision, a thorough study on the issue is required to be conducted so that the right to basic education of the children is not violated.
Reportedly, this decision is likely to affect about 1,300 schools. The State Education Minister is of the view that the low number of students in these Zila Parishad schools, means that the quality of education is poor there. The decision may increase the distance of the School from the house of a student, which should be less than 1 KM till Class V and less than 3 KM for class VI to VIII, as per the provisions of the Right to Education Act.
According to the media report, carried on the 21st December, 2017, there is a school in the Raireshwar area which will be closed in pursuance of the latest directions and the students studying in the school will go to another school situated in Rairi area, which is 35 KM away. The journey to the school will take at least two hours.
The teacher, posted at the Raireshwar school, has stated that it will be impossible in monsoon for the students to attend school. Two other schools, situated in Malwadi and Keshavnagar, would also meet the same fate. Another teacher has mentioned that he parks his motorcycle at Kankwadi village at the base of the cliff and walks for an hour up the path, which passes through a forest. He has added that you cannot expect a Class I girl student to walk through the forest for one or two hours daily; their parents would never allow them.
Reportedly, the teachers and the parents have criticized the education department's decision, calling it absurd, unjustified and disastrous for the children. They have stated that a number of students would not be able to continue their studies due to this decision.
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