STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Kendrapara, 7 July
Plagued by abysmally low student strength and steady rate of dropout, 133 government-run primary schools are facing the threat of closure in Kendrapara district.
These schools thrive on paper only with exceedingly poor enrolment. 
This has necessitated shutting down these institutions.
The Education department has decided to close down 49 primary schools after the issue of poor enrolment was reviewed in a high level meeting recently. As per the prescribed yardsticks, 133 schools were found to have a student strength of less than 25.
However it was decided to run 84 schools as these were disadvantageously located, said the district project coordinator, Sarva Sikhya Abhiyana, Mr Nirmal Kumar Das.     
Teachers are enjoying ‘undeclared’ holiday as students are not turning up. Thus continuation of these schools is justifiable. The schools which would be shut down would be merged with the nearby government-run schools in terms of students. The teaching staff would also be accordingly shifted, said an official.     
Every year there has been consistent decline in roll strength in almost all the schools. As the department claims, 1.62 lakh students are enrolled in 1900 government schools. The overall enrolment (1.62 lakh) figure is being believed to be on a higher side. Bogus enrolment has become the order of the day. It has double advantage. With increased roll strength, teachers manage to cling on to their choice posting without being disturbed. Besides the MDM quota and other students-friendly schemes are a bonus with bogus students’ quota grabbed by concerned teachers.          
As children are better taught in nearby schools, parents have stopped sending their wards to these schools, they added. For all practical purpose, the primary education here has lost its sheen. Disillusioned parents repose little faith in the much-touted free education, quipped Dr Basudev Das, noted educationist.
For obvious reason, focus is steadily shifting towards private public schools for qualitative education, Mr Das observed.