4,400 govt schools in Jammu and Kashmir closed due to low enrollment | India News

School Education Department proposes merger of more than 1,200 school due to no or low enrollment of students

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Vasudha Mukherjee New Delhi

As many as 4,400 government-run schools in Jammu and Kashmir have been shut down due to poor enrollment of students, according to media reports on Thursday. The reports noted that out of the 23,117 government schools in the region, 4,394 have been removed from the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) data.

According to a report by Kashmir Observer, schools with low or no student enrollment have been merged with nearby public schools.

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The School Education Department identified over 1,200 government schools with low student enrollment and proposed their merger based on the catchment areas and student feasibility. In April 2022, the department announced plans to merge 720 government-run schools with inadequate student enrollment.

Primary schools most affected

The primary school category was the most affected, with the total number of government primary schools decreasing by nearly 30 per cent. Following mergers there are now 8,966 schools that remain operational, down from 12,977 government primary schools.

Additionally, 392 government middle schools, three high schools, and one higher secondary school have been deleted from the UDISE+ list. The data also show that of the 5,688 private and other educational institutions, only 5,555 are currently functional.

Jammu and Kashmir previously once had 28,805 government and private schools. The number now stands at 24,279 schools, indicating a significant reduction of 4,526 schools.

The Gujarat government had undertaken a similar initiative, closing down 90 government primary schools and merging nearly 500 schools between 2020-22, according to a report by the Indian Express. The state had previously tried to merge and close down schools with low or no enrollment in 2013 and 2019. However, previous attempts had been abandoned due to protests and strong political opposition.

Skewed pupil-teacher ratio

Last month, Administrative Secretary School Education Department Alok Kumar told the Kashmir News Observer that the pupil teacher ratio (PTR) was “skewed” in government schools, leading to closure of several government schools.

“Reduction of schools has nothing to do with the quality of education… Those schools didn’t have much student enrollment and the infrastructure in terms of human resources got spread out,” Kumar said. He added that many schools in J&K did not have adequate infrastructure and needed to be updated, especially as schools begin introducing new courses such as coding programmes.

The closure and merging of schools also reflects the ongoing challenges in maintaining student enrollment in various regions of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as, other states in India.

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