Maharashtra Education Minister Defends Cluster School Concept, Assures No Closure Of Small Schools

Maharashtra Education Minister Defends Cluster School Concept, Assures No Closure Of Small Schools

The Minister of School Education clarified that, Cluster School concept does not involve closing schools with low student enrollment, and its sole focus is on improving the quality of education for students in rural and urban areas alike.

RUCHA KANOLKARUpdated: Thursday, July 04, 2024, 04:44 AM IST
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Maharashtra School Education Minister Deepak Kesarkar | Sanjay Tambe

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Legislative Council saw a heated debate on the cluster school concept, with concerns raised about its potential impact on schools in rural areas. MLC Dheeraj Lingade of the Indian National Congress party expressed his reservations about the plan, fearing that schools in remote areas may be shut down. The Minister of School Education clarified that, Cluster School concept does not involve closing schools with low student enrollment, and its sole focus is on improving the quality of education for students in rural and urban areas alike.

"The proposal to introduce cluster schools on an experimental basis in June 2024 is flawed. It would be a significant challenge for underprivileged children to access education, and those who are already struggling would be disproportionately affected. Traveling long distances to attend school is a daunting task, and we urge the government to reconsider this policy and make education more accessible to all."

School Education Minister Deepak Kesarkar clarified that the aim of the cluster school concept is to improve the quality of education, not to close schools. "We will not close schools in tribal, hilly or rural areas," he assured. "We want to provide better facilities and resources to students, and we are taking steps to ensure that children receive travel allowances. We understand that traveling long distances can be challenging, but it's essential for them to get quality education."

Arun Lad, an MLC from NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar), expressed concerns about the current state of schools in rural Maharashtra. "The last 25-30 years have seen a decline in the condition of our schools. Lack of infrastructure, inadequate facilities, and poor maintenance have left our schools in a state of disrepair. We need new buildings, but we lack proper funding to address these issues."

Kesarkar emphasized that the government has not issued any orders to close schools and that the cluster school concept is still under consideration. "We are providing all necessary facilities, including toilets, and have resolved issues related to sanitation. We want to ensure that children receive quality education, regardless of their location. Students who live far from school can apply for travel expenses from the government."

While the government claims it is aimed at improving education quality, opponents argue that it may lead to school closures and increased difficulties for underprivileged students.

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