State to shut 8 Ashram schools
Decision due to low enrolment of tribal students
Pune: Due to less number of students’ enrollment in State Government-run Ashram schools, the Tribal Development Department has decided to shut eight Government Ashram schools in four districts including Pune, Satara, Kolhapur and Ratnagiri from next academic year.
Eight Ashramshalas run by the Tribal Department of the State Government in Kurunji and Pangari in Pune district, Bamnoli and Gogave in Satara district, Kote and Borvet in Kolhapur and Kadvan and Veral in Ratnagiri will be shut down from the academic year 2019-20.
“There are less tribal settlements in these areas because of which the eight Ashram schools have not been receiving enough enrollment,” mentions the Government Resolution (GR) issued on January 23.
The department has directed to absorb the existing students of these Ashramshalas in other Ashramshalas, or in nearby Zilla Parishad (ZP) schools or renowned schools. It has also directed the authorities to facilitate the parents of students who are currently studying in the aforementioned eight schools for the change of school. Further, the respective social welfare officers and district education officers for primary and secondary schools in the four districts, Pune, Satara, Kolhapur and Ratnagiri should help in the absorbing process of other caste students in the other schools in the area.
The State Government has also asked chief executive officers of each district to take a decision on starting a ZP school in these areas.
‘Closing of schools is not a solution’
“One of the primary reasons is low employment and education opportunity in these areas, due to which people from these tribal belts have been tremendously migrating to different areas in cities or other rural areas,” stated tribal activist Ravindra Talpe.
“The schools selected for closure are from outer parts of tribal areas, where the population is less. People migrate for job and education opportunities outside these places. This has affected the admission rate in these schools too,” said Talpe.
“However, shutting down the school is not a wise option. The State Government could think of restructuring these schools or make a centralised provision which would restore current students and provide better facilities,” added Talpe.
“Nevertheless, the Tribal Department will take the responsibility to merge these students in new schools, but then the distance would be a major factor considering the transportation of these children. As even though according to Right of Children to Compulsory and Free Education Act, 2009, schools should be within 3 km distance from every student’s resident, it is not being followed,” said Talpe.
He also highlighted that there are chances of more dropout rates, as students and parents won’t be comfortable in shifting too far distance schools.
Anjali Kurane, Head of Anthropology Department in Savitribai Phule Pune University agreed that closing down the schools is no solution. “They should instead redevelop the infrastructure and raise quality of education so more students are attracted from the tribal belt. Moreover, an Ashramshala is opened in a particular tribal area keeping in mind the tribal population. Even though the GR states due to less population there is low enrollment ratio in these schools, the government should find out the reason, if it’s unsustainable livelihood, then provide an alternative. Closing down schools will prove to be a setback, as ZP schools won’t provide facilities given in Ashramshala schools, like they are residential schools.”