After indiscriminately opening schools on the pretext of facilitating students in rural and remote areas for more than a decade, the Himachal Pradesh government has framed a policy to close down 99 primary schools with less than five students on rolls. The Cabinet has given nod to the proposal when it was observed that schools with five or less students were not conducive for overall growth of the child as he or she learns more in the company of others in the same age group.
The students enrolled in these schools would be shifted to schools in adjoining areas. The government has been talking about rationalization of teachers to meet the shortage as 1,341 schools (including 943 primary and 172 middle schools) are being managed by one teacher while in some schools, the number of teachers exceeds the strength of students. There are about 25,000 teachers in 10,710 primary schools with the enrollment of 3,23,387 students and the teacher-student ratio was worked out at 12.95, as per the U-DISE report.
The closure of schools with a negligible number of students has political implications but finally, the government has taken the decision. The number of students in government schools in the state is declining and on average, 2 percent students leave government schools for private ones every year. With the opening of public schools in rural areas, government schools in villages are also facing the problem.