Maharashtra: State Nod To Add Secondary Sections In Elementary Schools

Maharashtra: State Nod To Add Secondary Sections In Elementary Schools

The local self-governing bodies including district administration, municipal corporations managing these schools directed to add new classes according to their requirement

Musab QaziUpdated: Saturday, March 16, 2024, 12:26 AM IST
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Maharashtra: State Nod To Add Secondary Sections In Elementary Schools | PTI

To align the state’s schooling system with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and curb drop-outs after primary education, the Maharashtra government on Friday cleared the way for its 60,000 elementary schools to become secondary schools.

In a government resolution (GR) issued on Friday, the state approved the addition of upper-primary (classes 6-8) and secondary (classes 9-10) to 41,966 government schools that have only lower primary sections (classes 1-4/5). The 17,788 schools that teach till the seventh or eighth class can also be extended till the tenth grade.

The local self-governing bodies including district administration and municipal corporations managing these schools have been directed to add new classes according to their requirement. Preference will be given to schools with at least 30 students in lower primary grades and 35 students in upper primary classes. The government has directed authorities to add pre-primary sections (nurseries and kindergartens) at all the schools.

According to GR, the move is aimed at bringing uniformity in the structure of the state’s 1.1 lakh schools, which currently have as many as 10 types of class combinations. Most of the 66,000 schools run by the state offer education only till class 8, the highest level of free and compulsory education.

The government believes that this heterogeneity is at odds with NEP, which envisages a consolidated school structure with all the grades from pre-primary to class 12 under a single roof. The state’s current schooling structure of 5+3+2 (five years of lower primary, three years of upper primary and two years of secondary) also poses a challenge in adopting the new 5+3+3+4 schooling structure (five years of the foundation, three years of preparatory, three years of the middle and four years of secondary) prescribed by NEP, says GR.

The state hopes that, by adding secondary sections in government schools, it would also be able to reduce the drop-out rate after elementary schools. Data shows that around 65,000 out of more than 19 lakh students leave education after class 8. According to the government, this is because the students in government schools are required to join private schools after completing their elementary education in government institutes.

However, the state has had little success in its previous effort to expand government schools. In 2013, it sought the addition of fifth and eight grades in schools with classes 1-4 and those with classes 1-7. However, more than two-thirds of these schools are yet to meet this requirement.

The state, citing financial constraints, has refused to create any additional posts for teachers for the new classes, directing local self-governing bodies to utilise an existing pool of teachers. No additional funds have been provided to upgrade school infrastructure either. The schools have instead been asked to use available public and private resources.

Mahendra Ganpule, spokesperson for the Maharashtra School Principals Association, said that the schools would be reluctant to add new classes if they were not provided with additional resources. “Earlier, only some of the schools had applied for expansion and fewer still were permitted. The government needs to give special funds if it plans to succeed,” he said

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