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More than 8,200 West Bengal govt schools 'to be closed down'. Can UNESCO help?

By Harasankar Adhikari 
Recently, UNESCO showed interest in the West Bengal education system, and the Institute for Lifelong Learning of the United Nations Agency expressed its willingness to join the State’s education system because the government is reportedly taking several initiatives for strengthening the education system. But has this agency collected the information on the ground reality of this state’s education system and its very recent data?
A few days ago, a list of 8,207 schools to be closed went viral in social media. The list was prepared and leaked by the concerned department of West Bengal because the student strength of these schools is about 30 or less.
Statistics from the West Bengal education department revealed the poor state of affairs in the primary education sector, with as many as 7,018 state-run primary schools shutting shop in the last ten years. In 2021, the number of primary schools in West Bengal was 75,299. The number of primary schools in West Bengal fell gradually from 76,703 in 2016 to 75,299 in 2021. 
Further, it was also reveals that, as of March 31, 2012, there were 74,717 state-run primary schools in West Bengal. The figure has come down to 67,699 as of March 31, 2022.
Another scenario states that the number of examinees for secondary examinations in this year (2023) has been reduced by 50 percent from last year. It has been recorded that the rate of high school dropouts (especially after the Class-VIII standard) has been increasing. As there is a limited scope of jobs after higher education, this section migrates to different states for jobs.
Why is this happening? Is West Bengal's population growth stagnant? Or have parents of children at the bottom of the pyramid no faith in government sponsored education? Or are they interested in their wards’ school education in the private sector ? Or are they not interested in sending their wards into schools for education because there is no future in it? Or education is not for the poor.
The government is secretly facilitating privatization in education, and it works for education but not for the poor
This government provides a package of incentives for the attainment of education by all. Now almost every school has the facilities of a building, separate toilets, and drinking water. Up to class VIII, education is free. The government provides books and educational materials, dress and shoes; a midday meal (although quality and quantity are doubted); Sabuj Satha (a bicycle); world-recognized Kanyashree; and so on.
Then, why do people turn their back on government sponsored education? Of course, the quality of education and teachers, as well as the attitudes of teachers towards pupils, are deeply attached to this. Private tuition has become mandatory for students for their own benefit. Secondly, corruption in school jobs is another factor impacted. 
Thirdly, the government is secretly facilitating privatization in education, and it works for education but not for the poor because education has no future in job sectors. And also, the educated degree holders have no status, while the just literate politicians of different hierarchies enjoy the highest form of power, prestige, and ownership of wealth.
The current policy in education is furthering illiteracy in the state. The state would surely sink into the deep ocean of darkness where political politics and corruption are misleading and de-motivating the future generation and their guardians (especially those in poor socio-economic strata). Is it the birthplace and work place of Raja Rammohun Roy, Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda, and Rabindranath Tagore, who struggled to remove the darkness of this land through education? 
Every sensitive citizen should think why this is happening and the State should be protected from discriminatory politics.



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