Pune: City-based RTE activist Mukund Kirdat has warned the government, stating that he will soon register a complaint at the women and child rights commission, along with due evidence, against the backdrop of the closure of 1,314 ZP schools, which is being opposed and criticised by activists.
“We are collecting complaints from families that will face problems when the decision is implemented, from villages around Pune. We will go to the commission with complains from those who will be directly affected by the decision,”
This has also come after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the State government, asking them for clarification behind the decision.
“The RTE Act uses a special word called ‘neighbourhood schools’. They clearly state that the primary schools have to be at a walking distance from the students’ residence. The government’s decision is clearly violating this provision,” Kirdat said.
He recently surveyed a few schools around Pune that are a part of the list to be shut, to throw light on the consequences of the decision.
Kirdat said, “While surveying the schools around Pune, we came across schools in Mulshi, where no transport is available. Moreover, the young children in primary schools wouldn’t be able to travel to school on their own, in case they are shifted to a far-off school.”
He said that the government is forgetting that RTE Act has the word ‘compulsory’ in it. “It’s not up to the government to decide whether to run schools or not. It’s mandatory for them, as it’s the right of the students. If the government is not ready to provide the students with good education near their homes, they need to start good residential schooling facilities for the same. Instead of this, they are just trying to find an easy way out,” he added.
While the education minister stated that the decision was made to improve the quality of education and raise the level of merit, Kirdat disapproved, saying, “In most of these schools that are set to be shut down, we found that most of the students are doing well in their studies, reading English, solving mathematics problems efficiently, depending on the class in which they are studying. If this isn’t merit, what is?”
The activist also added that while government thinks that privatisation is the answer to this problem, it should actually try to understand the real reason behind the lesser number of students at schools.
“There are many villages from where families have moved to urban areas in search of employment. There is lesser dependence on farming and people are moving to industrial hubs. In this situation, the schools are bound to have lesser number of students. So, even if there is privatisation, the government will not be able to attract more children to the schools,” he said.