Pune: The women’s wing of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), held protests against the government’s decision to close down schools which were deemed to be ‘underperforming’. The Maharashtra government had recently announced its decision intending to shut down more than 1,300 State-run primary and secondary schools.
In a move which has been termed unfair and anti-poor, the State government’s education machinery had formed guidelines under which schools which had less than 10 students enrolled with them were to be shut down to save costs and the students would be shifted to the nearest better-performing school. Under these metrics, almost 13,000 schools could be considered to be shut down of which, 1,314 schools were to be shut down in the first phase.
“The government’s decision will affect the students from the most underprivileged classes in the society. Of the 1,314 schools to be shut down, 76 schools, which is the largest number of schools from any district, are from Pune. Where will the students from these schools go?,” said Rupali Chakankar, the City President of the NCP women’s wing. She added,
“These schools are in small villages and remote areas, which have mostly low-income families. They will, of course, have small numbers of children. And these schools are their only access to education.”
The protesters submitted a letter to the Education Commissioner and the Director of Education and raised slogans against the government outside the central building which houses the offices of the officials. The organisation has also planned to take the protests on a wider scale soon.
“We organised the protests in the Pune district level today (on Tuesday), but this issue is much larger and serious. We will soon organise such protests all over the State,” said Chakankar.