"The fact was that the government had merely made a decision to merge 800 government schools with less than 20 students with adjoining schools situated within a one kilometre radius", he said.
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. It was disclosed by a spokesperson of the education department on Saturday.
Leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira, terming the decision as a gross discrimination, said that children of the 800 schools would now have to walk or travel many kilometres to attend school.
As of now, the state education department has put its decision on hold till November as the department is hoping that under the new scheme of admitting pre-primary students, which is unveiling on November 14, these schools may witness the increase in strength. Apart from this, special budgetary provisions have been made to strengthen the basic infrastructure of government primary schools and instruction in English medium (optional) would be imparted from Class I onwards in 400 schools of the state.
Balwinder Singh Bhutto, president of the Punjab Government Teachers Union, opposing the decision of the merger, said, "The government is making tall claims of saving the government education system but its decision is exactly the opposite".
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According to the spokesperson, many schools being merged are situated right next to the other and in many places, both the schools share a common wall. The department has even identified 15 primary schools having less than three students.
In a joint statement by AAPs state co-president Aman Arora, the partys Punjab Assembly deputy leader Sarabjit Kaur Manuke, MLAs Baljinder Kaur, Kultar Singh Sandhwan, Harpal Singh Cheema, Principal Budh Ram and Amarjit Singh Sandhoa asked the Congress government to should immediately stop the process of "shutting down almost 800 primary schools" in the state.
Mr. Aman Arora said in certain government schools, if the attendance of the children was less than 20, it was definitely not the fault of the parents or the wards.
"It is the responsibility of successive state governments which have failed to provide proper infrastructure for the success of primary schools", he said.
"It should immediately stop the process of shutting down almost 800 primary schools in the state", the statement said.
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