Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Dalit Bahujan Adivasi Education

Closure of schools, a threat to Odisha’s tribal education

While the state government goes over the merger policy, a civil organisation questions the drafting of such a policy without interacting with villagers at the local level.

Sabrangindia 23 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:counterview.net

The Department of School and Mass Education (SME) is currently awaiting orders from the Odisha government regarding the closure of primary and upper primary schools in the state, said Deputy Secretary Pratibha Dora on November 23, 2020 when asked about the state government policy that could potentially affect many schools in tribal areas.

While Dora was unable to confirm the cause of the reconsideration, the changes are being discussed following heated exchanges during Assembly proceedings on November 21.

The state government declared on November 22 that primary schools with less than 15 attending students in scheduled areas and schools with less than 20 attending students in non-scheduled areas would be merged with nearby institutions.

While this decision relaxes much of the tension created by the earlier criterion of closure of schools with less than 20 and 40 students in scheduled and non-scheduled areas respectively, Odisha RTE Forum’s – an informal network of civil society organisations – Convener Anil Pradhan argues that the revision offers little relief for the marginalised communities.

“This decision will have a disastrous impact upon tribal and vulnerable communities. There are small tribal hamlets beyond mountains and rivers that would suffer due to this closure of primary schools,” said Pradhan to SabrangIndia.

Pradhan said that the government ought to consider and correct the causes of low enrolment and attendance rates rather than outright closure of schools.

“It will be better if the government conducts a survey to understand the reason for the poor attendance performance, especially by talking to parents, local MLAs, gram panchayat authorities. If they do, they will know that tribal children have to work because of which they are often unable to attend schools,” he said.

In a memorandum letter addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik earlier in 2020, the organisation questioned the wisdom in taking such a grave decision without any formal consultation with most backward communities in tribal regions that would face the brunt of mergers and closures.  They estimated almost 25 percent schools in 56 tribal sub-plan blocks from Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Mayurbhanj districts were selected for closure by March 7, 2020.

“Blocks like Rayagada, Kandhamal, Sundargarh are going to suffer the most within these districts,” said Pradhan.

The complete memorandum by the Odisha RTE Forum can be viewed below:

The RTE Forum worried about the decision impact on the Rights to Education (RTE) enshrined within the Right to protection of life and personal liberty. As per their ground reports, schools in certain regions have already been closed contrary to government assurances.

In the past as well, the policy had led to the closure of roughly 155 schools with an attendance of less than five students had been closed.

Following huge protests, schemes like tribal allowance were initiated but offered little help since such offers could not assure a person to send the child to school.

Pradhan agreed that closure of schools could not be avoided however, he insisted that locals, parents and students be included in this decision. Children especially were actively protesting in some of the state to denounce the government policy.

“Many protests have sprung up in different parts of the state wherein children have also participated. Some of them requested the government to take away the mid-day meal schemes if necessary but refrain from closing downs schools altogether,” said Pradhan.

https://www.facebook.com/laxmidhar.singh.5/posts/10223966177563023

On Saturday, similar protests also took place in Kandhamal district.

Related:

Modi and Sangh shape education in their own mould
Activists meet resolves to make right to education (RTE) plank for assembly polls: Bihar
Proposing closure of govt schools, why is NEP 'silent' on universalising school education?
Official data paucity: Assessing public education system impossible without independent NGO surveys

Closure of schools, a threat to Odisha’s tribal education

While the state government goes over the merger policy, a civil organisation questions the drafting of such a policy without interacting with villagers at the local level.

Image Courtesy:counterview.net

The Department of School and Mass Education (SME) is currently awaiting orders from the Odisha government regarding the closure of primary and upper primary schools in the state, said Deputy Secretary Pratibha Dora on November 23, 2020 when asked about the state government policy that could potentially affect many schools in tribal areas.

While Dora was unable to confirm the cause of the reconsideration, the changes are being discussed following heated exchanges during Assembly proceedings on November 21.

The state government declared on November 22 that primary schools with less than 15 attending students in scheduled areas and schools with less than 20 attending students in non-scheduled areas would be merged with nearby institutions.

While this decision relaxes much of the tension created by the earlier criterion of closure of schools with less than 20 and 40 students in scheduled and non-scheduled areas respectively, Odisha RTE Forum’s – an informal network of civil society organisations – Convener Anil Pradhan argues that the revision offers little relief for the marginalised communities.

“This decision will have a disastrous impact upon tribal and vulnerable communities. There are small tribal hamlets beyond mountains and rivers that would suffer due to this closure of primary schools,” said Pradhan to SabrangIndia.

Pradhan said that the government ought to consider and correct the causes of low enrolment and attendance rates rather than outright closure of schools.

“It will be better if the government conducts a survey to understand the reason for the poor attendance performance, especially by talking to parents, local MLAs, gram panchayat authorities. If they do, they will know that tribal children have to work because of which they are often unable to attend schools,” he said.

In a memorandum letter addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik earlier in 2020, the organisation questioned the wisdom in taking such a grave decision without any formal consultation with most backward communities in tribal regions that would face the brunt of mergers and closures.  They estimated almost 25 percent schools in 56 tribal sub-plan blocks from Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Mayurbhanj districts were selected for closure by March 7, 2020.

“Blocks like Rayagada, Kandhamal, Sundargarh are going to suffer the most within these districts,” said Pradhan.

The complete memorandum by the Odisha RTE Forum can be viewed below:

The RTE Forum worried about the decision impact on the Rights to Education (RTE) enshrined within the Right to protection of life and personal liberty. As per their ground reports, schools in certain regions have already been closed contrary to government assurances.

In the past as well, the policy had led to the closure of roughly 155 schools with an attendance of less than five students had been closed.

Following huge protests, schemes like tribal allowance were initiated but offered little help since such offers could not assure a person to send the child to school.

Pradhan agreed that closure of schools could not be avoided however, he insisted that locals, parents and students be included in this decision. Children especially were actively protesting in some of the state to denounce the government policy.

“Many protests have sprung up in different parts of the state wherein children have also participated. Some of them requested the government to take away the mid-day meal schemes if necessary but refrain from closing downs schools altogether,” said Pradhan.

https://www.facebook.com/laxmidhar.singh.5/posts/10223966177563023

On Saturday, similar protests also took place in Kandhamal district.

Related:

Modi and Sangh shape education in their own mould
Activists meet resolves to make right to education (RTE) plank for assembly polls: Bihar
Proposing closure of govt schools, why is NEP 'silent' on universalising school education?
Official data paucity: Assessing public education system impossible without independent NGO surveys

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

Farm and Forest

Farmers Organisation in Sitapur stands in solidarity against Farm Laws

The Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan is a people's movement in Sitapur, UP, that emerged from a group set up by rural women to enable them to be bigger stakeholders in the processes of development. In this video, witness these marginal farmers and landless labourers take their oath and stand with the farmers of our country. 

Farm and Forest

Farmers Organisation in Sitapur stands in solidarity against Farm Laws

The Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan is a people's movement in Sitapur, UP, that emerged from a group set up by rural women to enable them to be bigger stakeholders in the processes of development. In this video, witness these marginal farmers and landless labourers take their oath and stand with the farmers of our country. 

IN FACT

Analysis

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Archives