Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 27:
Members in the Odisha Assembly cutting across party lines today expressed concern over the falling number of students in primary schools in the state.
Drop in attendance of students, accompanied by shortage of teachers, is plaguing primary schools in the state, members said.
Expressing concern over the situation, members from both Opposition and ruling party demanded concrete steps by the government for a permanent solution to the problem.
School and Mass Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra informed the House that 197 schools in 26 districts have been closed due to shortage of students. These schools had to be closed since less than five students attended them, he said.
Students of schools having a strength of 10 or less will be transferred to nearby schools, the Minister said.
A committee and task force have been constituted with UNICEF’s assistance for enhancing the quality of education in the state-run schools, Mishra informed the House.
Participating in the debate and highlighting how the shortage of teachers is affecting schools in the state, Congress member from Bijepur Subal Sahu said that there is an old high school at Saipali in his constituency., which runs with only two teachers – one a classical teacher and another a Hindi teacher.
If the government cannot provide teachers for subjects like science, mathematics etc, it should abolish such subjects from the courses of studies, he suggested.
Drawing the attention of the Chair to parents from affluent classes like members of the Assembly, government officials and businessmen queuing up to get their wards admitted to private schools by paying hefty amounts as donation, senior BJD MLA from Barchana Amar Prasad Satpathy said the matter needs to be examined by the government within a specific time frame. There are times when their wards do not get admission in these schools and yet they don’t want send them to government schools, he pointed out.
He questioned whether the government will take a decision in line with the Allahabad High Court’s decision that all government officials and members of the House have to send their wards to government-run primary schools instead of public schools.
In his reply, Minister of School and Mass Education Debiprasad Mishra listed a series of initiatives the government has taken to improve the state of school education in the state and said they are being reviewed.
He said these are being monitored from the CRC level. The system has been decentralized on the structural front too, he added.
Mishra said the government is the largest education provider till date. He said while around 30 percent students are opting for private schools at the all India level, the percentage is considerably less in the state.
A committee has been formed with UNICEF’s assistance to improve quality of education in the state’s schools, he informed.