State to extend 27.5k schools to minimise number of dropouts

Government has decided to extend primary schools falling under the ambit of zilla parishads and municipal corporations across the state to Std V and the upper primary schools to Std VIII

In a bid to cut down the rate of dropouts from state and civic schools, the government has decided to extend primary schools up to Std V and upper primary schools up to Std VIII. As many as 20,567 schools in the state will be adding Std V and 6,990 schools will be starting Std VIII with the commencement of the new academic year on June 16.

For their betterment: A recent state-wide survey by the education department revealed that the dropout rate after Std IV is two per cent and four per cent after Std VII. The department feels that by adding classes, these percentages will come down. File Pic

“I recently approved the proposal, and a circular in this regard will soon be sent to all the schools so that they get adequate time to make preparations,” said Education Commissioner S Chokalingam.

This new policy will be applicable to all the schools falling under the ambit of zilla parishads and municipal corporations in the state.

Until recently, the government primary schools were restricted to Std IV and upper primary to Std VII. But, as per the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, the government has to make free and quality education available to children till the age of 14, which is Std VIII. This pushed the government to implement the new extension policy in state and civic schools across Maharashtra.

The only precondition is that there should not be any other government or private school within a one-kilometre radius of a school that wants to extend to Std V or Std VIII. The restriction limit is of three kilometres.

“Our primary objective is to minimize the number of school dropouts in the state. Students, especially from rural areas are forced to discontinue schooling due to the absence of good educational institutes close to them where they can enrol for further studies. This new policy will focus on helping such students,” Choklingam said.

Least in Pune
Compared to other districts in the state, Pune has the least number of schools that are eligible and want to start either Std V or Std VIII from the upcoming academic year. While proposals sent by 128 schools to start Std V in the district have been approved, only 15 schools passed the eligibility test to start Std VIII.

There are as many as 1,900 schools in Nashik, 1,100 in Raigad, 1,400 in Ahmadnagar, 1,400 in Ratnagiri and 700
in Nagpur that want to start Std V.

“Our survey has revealed that the current dropout rate after Std IV is about 2% and 4% after Std VII. Now that we are adding classes, these numbers will come down,” Choklingam said.

Teacher crunch

Though the state has decided to implement its decision in the upcoming academic year, it is yet to approve the recruitment of additional teachers. This means that the existing teaching staff will have to bear this additional workload.

“Every year, we undertake a state-wide review of student-teacher ratio in September. The new policy will not have any impact on primary schools, which are going to start Std V. But as per the RTE Act, there should be a separate teacher for class VIII.

This means the state will require  an additional 6,990 teachers for the schools wanting to extend up to Std VIII. The decision on this matter will be taken soon,” Choklingam said. 

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