Guwahati: The Assam government has closed 5,943 primary schools across the state in the name of “merger” and “amalgamation” of schools to maintain the teachers-pupil ratio.
This was alleged by the deputy leader of the opposition and former minister Rakibul Hussain while addressing a press conference at a city hotel here on Monday.
“The government has stopped the provincialisation of schools by passing an act- Assam Venture School Provincialisation Act in 2017 despite our strong opposition. Now they are closing one after another school in the name of merger or amalgamation. If two schools are merged, one school has to be closed, if two schools are amalgamated, one has to be closed,” Hussain said.
“Many schools, where our statesmen like Homen Borgohain, Nagen Saikia, Navakanta Baruah had studied, were closed by the government. It is an emotional issue,” Hussain also said.
The state government claimed the schools which have failed to maintain the pupil-teacher ratio 30:1, would be either merged or amalgamated with a nearby school.
Hussain claimed that more than 20 thousand teachers of over 2,319 educational institutes (from primary school to college level institutions) have been left over in the provincialisation process as the government has decided to provincialise the schools which were set up before January 1, 2006.
“During passage of the bill and its amendment, we have demanded for inclusion of all schools and other educational institutes in the provincialisation list. Since then we have been demanding justice to these teachers,” he said.
The Congress leader said Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had accepted the demand of the representatives of a venture teacher organization for amendment of the act and provincialisation of the teachers who have been deprived of recognition. However, he did not keep his word.
“These venture schools have been shown as non-provincialised schools in UDISE Code and the junior colleges and higher secondary schools have been shown as private sector institutions,” Hussain said.
“What is surprising is that the government has closed mid-day meals in these schools from April 1, 2023. The supply of school uniform and free textbooks were also closed to these schools.
Needless to say in the 2016 election maifesto, the BJP had promised provincialisation of all venture schools of the state if they come to power,” Hussain alleged.
“By closing the provincialisation process, the government is trying to kill the poor students economically. You can’t imagine the situation sitting in Guwahati, if you go to villages, you will realize the scene,” he said.
He claimed that the financial situation in the state is horrible and the state is run from loans borrowed from various agencies.
“After joining BJP in 2015, Himanta Biswa Sarma criticized then chief minister Tarun Gogoi because the loan borrowed by the government had gone up to Rs 10,000 crore during his government.
Sarma also tabled a white paper on state finance on the floor of the state assembly in 2016 after the formation of government by the BJP. In the white paper, he commented that borrowing of loan is not a good sign for the state economy.
He had also claimed in the House that it would not be repeated by his government. But now the loan borrowed by Himanta Biswa Sarma government has gone up to Rs. 1.40 lakh crore. What I have to speak on it,” he questioned.
The Congress leader alleged that Sarma had spent public money on helicopter trips. If he goes to Nagaon in helicopter, Rs. 10 lakh is spent in a day. How much does he spend per month travelling by helicopter,” he also questioned.
“The chief minister also spent much money on pandals for distribution programmes. Approximately Rs. 40 crore has been spent on pendals for the distribution of benefits under the Orunodoi scheme.
If he transfers the money by DBT to the beneficiaries, why such meetings were organized for the distribution of benefits to the beneficiaries,” he further questioned.
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