‘Official apathy, failure of ReT, SSA schemes responsible’
SHOPIAN: Despite several government schemes to uplift the education system, nothing has proved fruitful for the education sector in district Shopian. Among the district’s 509 schools, 140 have been closed by the authorities following a huge decline in student enrolment.
A main reason for decline, according to officials from the Education Department, is that dozens of schools lack their own buildings. “Those schools were operating in rented spaces without the facilities and infrastructure that a school should have,” an official from the department said.
As per official figures, among the 140 schools declared defunct, student roll in 56 schools stood at zero, which is why the schools were closed. In the remaining 84 schools, the students enrolled numbered below 20, which forced the authorities to club the schools with other ones nearby that had a student intake at least above 20 student.
Education experts believe that the government launched many schools for revolutionising the sector, but schemes like Rehbar-e-Taleem (ReT) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) turned out to be disastrous.
“Authorities gave jobs to incompetent teachers under SSA and ReT and constructed buildings at every nook and corner in village areas where there was no need of a school,” said Javid Ahmad, an educationist, adding that dozens of such schools constructed under the SSA and ReT schemes were shut as there was no population available to admit their wards in the schools.
Interestingly, schemes like ReT and SSA were launched precisely for the purpose of achieving sufficient student numbers. For regularisation, teachers were required by norm to submit student roll and result statements to the authorities. However, according to trusted Education Department sources, many teachers were regularised even if they failed to submit satisfactory roll and result statements.
Insiders from the department said that in just one belt from Habdipora to Imamsahib, almost 25 schools were defunct due to official apathy.
Gulzar Ahmad, a teacher from the Education Department, told Kashmir Reader that defunct schools should be restarted and the teachers there should be made responsible for the decline in student roll.
“What forces people to send their children to private schools when there is free education, free mid-day meals, free books and many other schemes for students in government schools? Only strict administration can restart those schools, without which poor people would suffer,” he said.
Many experts opine that the wave of private school education over the past few years also took a toll on government schools. However, they said, even after the trend of privatised education set in, teachers in government schools failed to show good results despite their being competent, which forced people to vacate the government schools and go for private ones.
Chief Education Officer, Shopian, Muhammad Sadiq told Kashmir Reader that they recently held a meeting in which they discussed reopening many closed schools.
“We are going to open many such schools, and people also can inform us about the requirement of reopening schools in their respective areas,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner, Shopian, Owais Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that every possible step will be taken to restart the defunct schools.
“We will open the schools where there is requirement,” he said.
When asked if the district administration would start an awareness campaign for reopening government schools, he said, “We will look into this.”