Punjab To Merge Schools With Less Attendance

 A move by Punjab's Education Department to merge government primary schools having less than 20 students with the schools located within one-km radius has been opposed by the state's main opposition party AAP. "The decision of the department would result in the teachers of the schools being merged being deployed at the places where their services are needed the most," an Education Department spokesperson said on Saturday, justifying the decision.

"The Right to Free and Compulsory Education of the children is being fully adhered to and no student would be traversing the distance of more than one km from his/her residence to go to school. Many schools being merged are situated right next to the other schools and in many places both schools share a common wall," he said.

The spokesperson said that 47 of the schools facing merger have the student strength of less than five and out of these, 15 schools have even less than three students.

Terming the decision of merger as one in the interest of both students and teachers, the spokesperson said this would lead to better educational atmosphere in the schools.

"The teachers of the schools being merged would be deputed in the same districts' needy schools having vacant slots as per their seniority on impartial basis," the spokesperson said.

Severely condemning the decision of the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab "to shut down hundreds of state-run primary schools", the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has asked the Chief Minister to learn from his counterpart Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi.

In a joint statement issued by AAP's co-state President Aman Arora and other AAP leaders, the party warned the Congress government against the move.

"It should immediately stop the process of shutting down nearly 800 primary schools in the state," the statement said.

Mr. Aman Arora said in certain government schools, if the attendance of the children was less than 20, it was definitely not the fault of the parents or the wards.

"It is the responsibility of the successive governments who have failed to provide proper infrastructure and the policies suitable for the success of the primary schools," Mr. Arora said.

The Punjab government could learn how the Delhi government had been successful in transforming the condition of the government schools in the national capital.