Wednesday, August 16, 2017

School closures and mergers - Report

A report on School Closures and Mergers (PDF 4.5 MB) in India argues that tens of thousands of government schools in three states are being arbitrarily closed down and merged, causing immense hardship to children and their families. Poor girl children, and children with disabilities are the most severely affected, often dropping out of school altogether. The Save the Children report (not yet on their website, as of August 2017) studies the implementation and impact of policies of school closures and mergers in Telangana, Odisha, and Rajasthan.

Among its findings are that:

  • the policies are being haphazardly and arbitrarily implemented (Chapter 3)
  • no consultation with the community; nor any guidance to the community regarding alternatives (Chapter 7)
  • "Closures are both a cause and a consequence of the process of privatisation of schooling in educationally advanced districts and urban centres." (p. xi; see also Chapter 11)
  • "the mergers have only disrupted teaching-learning activities and perhaps further degraded the quality of education" (p. 50)
  • the closures and mergers impact more severely the economically underprivileged (Chapters 8 and 10)
  • serious impact on gender equality: "girls will be much more vulnerable to be married off earlier than before" (p. xi; see also Chapter 10.2)
  • these closures and mergers are a violation of various provisions of the Right to Education Act (Chapter 12)

The Report also documents cases of resistance. Regarding Rajasthan we are told that "about 384 schools were re-started due to the pressures from community members and political parties and representatives, thus making the total number of schools closed 14,673" (p. 69, Annexure 4, footnote 34).

The Report concludes in its section on "Issues and Recommendations for Advocacy" that the issue of school closures and mergers needs to be more widely known and better understood by the various stakeholders.