The state government will close 22 Moulana Azad Model Schools, which have fewer than 150 students, in the state due to poor maintenance and lack of infrastructure, and the Ministry of Finance has also given the green signal to that.
The Department of Minority Welfare ordered in September that nine schools, with fewer than 100 students, and 13, with 100 to 150 students, be closed. The department’s deputy secretary, Mahibabu Saba, also said in the order that students should be transferred to nearby schools or transferred to other locations.
The government has opened 200 Moulana Azad Model Schools in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic year under the Karnataka Minorities Directorate. A total enrollment of 200 students has been sanctioned for each school, and currently 39,000 (65%) students are enrolled.
These schools are English-language and teach classes VI to X. The Minority Welfare Department provides free uniforms, books, notebooks, stationery, shoes and socks.
The government opened 200 Moulana Azad Model Schools in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school year.
However, the Department only distributed one-time sets of uniforms for Class VI students last year. For two years, the Department had not distributed uniforms, notebooks and other items.
Teachers say they suffer from the lack of infrastructure. “In some places, the department runs the schools in its own building. But in other places they are held in dilapidated old government school buildings and rented premises. Some schools are run in tin sheds and most of them do not have separate toilets for boys and girls. Older girls are reluctant to come to school,” said one teacher.
Poor maintenance of toilets, lack of clean water and playgrounds are also seen as factors contributing to low school enrolment.
The government had sanctioned only 700 staff, including 100 head teachers and 600 associate teachers, for only 100 schools. The remaining 100 schools are entirely under the responsibility of visiting teachers and other school staff in the department.
The Ministry of Finance recently authorized the recruitment of Hindi teachers, physical education teachers and Group ‘D’ positions on outsourcing basis for only 60 schools, which have the highest number of registrations.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Siddaramaiah criticized the closure of schools. “The BJP’s agenda is that working class and poor children should be out of school. This agenda, which was previously hidden, is now openly celebrated. The portfolio of the Department for Minority Protection is held by the Chief Minister. The Maulana Azad Model Schools were opened for the upliftment of students from minority communities. However, students are not enrolling in large numbers because the government has neglected to focus on proper facilities,” he said.
“These children have not been given a uniform for two years and this is a betrayal on the part of the Prime Minister, who also holds the finance portfolio. There are thousands of schools with three to 15 students under the Department of School Education and Literacy, which the government continues to operate. It is inexcusable to close minority schools of at least 100 students in such a situation. The government should immediately reconsider its decision”, demanded Mr. Siddaramaiah.