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More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education
By Our Representative
A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.
Thus, the highest number of schools to be “merged” has been identified in Banaskantha district of North Gujarat, 456, followed by the predominantly tribal district of Dahod (381). Other districts where a very high number of schools will be “merged” are Panchmahals (338), Kheda (312), Mahisagar (307), Aravalli (281), Chhotaudepur (253), Anand (239), Sabarkantha (205), and so on.
Calling the policy of “merging” or closing down schools as suggesting “anti-people intention of the government”, Nafees told media that this is happening at a time when, facts show, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which official data have been made available.
Meanwhile, Nafees said, there has been an increase in crimes against children. Thus, in 2012, there were 1,327 cases, which increased to 3,637 in 2016. As against his, the conviction rate in cases was only 12% in 2016, which is much lower than the national average of 31%. Further, he added, in Gujarat, 38.5% of children under 5 years of age are malnourished.
Stating that in a situation, the Right to Education law is failing to be properly implemented in Gujarat, Nafees said, the RTE Forum demands that the state government should insist upon the Government of India to increase the central share 6% of the total GDP on education.
The media conference was organized following a one-day consultation in Ahmedabad to strengthen the education movement in Gujarat for the public education system as part of the Global Week of Action Against Inequality, Nafees said.
Education rights activists from Kutch, Morbi, Sabarkantha, Aravalli, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Kheda, Panchmahal, Anand, Ahmedabad, Valsad, and Dahod districts participated in the consultation. The discussion centred around the process of social inclusion from the point of view of Dalits, Adivasis, minorities, women and disabled. A fact-sheet on education, prepared by the national RTE Forum, was released on the occasion.
Meanwhile, the RTE Forum, said Nafees, will be launching a campaign for the rights of children in the state and for their social inclusion starting with January 30. 

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