The Punjab education department on Saturday decided to merge the  primary schools having less than 20 students, with those situated within one kilometer (km) radius. Interestingly, as many as 47 such schools facing merger have less than five students. The department has even identified 15 primary schools having less than three students .

However, the school which is situated at a distance of more than one km would not be merged even if the strength of the students is less than 20. An official spokesperson said that the decision will help to maintain student-teacher ratio as the teachers can be deployed where their services are required the most.

“Many schools being merged are situated in close vicinity. In some cases, schools share the wall. The teachers of the schools being merged would be deputed in the same district against the vacant posts as per their seniority,” said the spokesperson.

It was also disclosed that the state education minister Aruna Chaudhary has directed to start pre-primary classes to boost the standard of government schools and strengthen the primary education infrastructure as well. Apart from this, special budgetary provisions have been made to strengthen the basic infrastructure of government primary schools. “Instruction in English medium (optional) would be imparted from first standard in 400 schools of the state,” added the spokesperson.

On the other hand, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has strongly opposed the state education department’s move to merge primary schools within 1-km radius. The AAP has suggested the Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Amarinder Singh to learn from Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to follow AAP government’s education model in the state. Through a joint press statement, Punjab AAP c0-president Aman Arora said that the move to merge more than 800 government primary schools should be stopped immediately.

He said that the people of the state have elected the Congress led government with high hopes and they should not be refrain from basic services like education and health. Arora claimed that Delhi’s government schools result was nine per cent higher than the private schools.

He claimed that the people in Delhi have shown their faith in government’s education system resulting more than 900 school children enrolled with only one government school in national capital. “The merger will affect close to 800 primary schools in Punjab and will have adverse effects on the education system in the state,” he said.