Flawed merger of schools raises questions over setting up SSA school in Anantnag

Bizzare: Govt posts 7 teachers for 12 students
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Srinagar: Amid claims of bringing reforms in the educational sector across Jammu and Kashmir, a government school in Anantnag has failed to increase the enrollment of the students since its establishment in the area.

Established in early 2000s under the erstwhile Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) scheme, Government Middle School (GMS) Hanji Muhalla in Botengo area of Anantnag has remained one of the examples of the poor performing schools.

The school has an enrollment of 12 students while the department has posted around seven teachers in the government-run institution.

The school has been established in complete violation of norms by the then government on the basis of the flawed feasibility report submitted by the then ZEO and CEO of the district.

The J&K government recently ordered an in-depth inquiry into opening of schools under the erstwhile SSA scheme in the erstwhile state, sensing that it was a “scam by past regimes to accommodate their own political workers”.

The decision was taken in the wake of a complaint received by the Education Department regarding the opening of SSA schools in gross violation of the set norms.

Also, as per the departmental surveys, most of the SSA schools were opened in villages and other areas without following the set parameters.

The successive regimes established these schools haphazardly, which defeated the purpose of the scheme.

Meanwhile, GMS Hanji Muhalla has been established at a distance of less than 1 km from Government High School Botengo, which is now serving as cluster head to the middle school.

At a distance of around 1.5 km, the government has also established GMS Uranhall, which has seven teachers for 80 students.

“The land for the establishment of GMS Hanji Muhalla was donated by the relatives of the persons who were engaged as teachers. The land was not feasible as there was no approach road to the school but the concerned officials at zonal and district level managed to construct the school building, which was later blocked from all sides, leaving no access to the school,” an official said.

Surprisingly, the head of the GMS Hanji Muhalla and the teachers have failed to increase the student enrollment despite the two enrollment drives carried out by the Directorate of School Education Kashmir during the last two consecutive years (2021 and 2022).

With no increase in the enrollment and with no access to the school, the zonal educational authorities decided to accommodate GMS Hanji Muhalla in GMS Uranhall “for a period of 15 days”.

“The school was shifted on verbal directions and was adjusted in two rooms of the GMS Uranhall,” an official said.

With the passage of time, the zonal authorities merged the school with GMS Uranhall and decided to give the charges of both the schools to GMS Hanji Muhalla, resulting in confrontation between the staff and heads of the institutes of both the schools.

“It is surprising that the charges of both the schools are given to such a person who failed to improve the enrollment of the school in all these years,” the official said.

The official said that GMS Uranhall has an enrollment of 80 students with seven teachers. “The concerned school head has worked hard to maintain a good student population in school and if the charges are given to school head of GMS Hanji Muhalla, it will adversely impact both the schools,” the official said.

“Surprisingly, all this is being done verbally without issuing any official orders,” he said.

Notably, the school has been merged with the institution, which is situated at a distance of 1.5 km while the Government High School Botengo is situated at a distance of less than 1 km.

“GHS Botengo is the cluster head of GMS Hanji Muhalla and the exam centre of students as well. But we fail to understand why the school was shifted to GMS Uranhall which is far from GHS Botengo,” the official said.

Greater Kashmir received complaints that a ReT teacher was being retained at Zonal Education Officer’s office at Anantnag every year in violation of the government orders of relieving all the teachers from the offices.

The GMS Hanji Muhalla has been shifted on verbal orders despite the clear-cut directions from the department not to order clubbing of any school without proper permission from the department.

Meanwhile, ZEO Anantnag told Greater Kashmir that the issue was resolved amicably after the teachers of both the schools agreed to work together.

On why the school was not merged with Government High School Botengo, the ZEO said that the students had to cross the road to enter the school.

“That is why we shifted it to middle school Uranhall. The students were facing problems as there was no road available to reach GMS Hanji Muhalla,” he said.

About retaining the ReT teacher at office, the ZEO said that the teacher had been relieved and would report to his school.

Earlier, the School Education Department (SED) pulled up Chief Education Officers (CEOs) and ZEOs for overstepping their jurisdictional authority in ordering merger of government schools.

The government had also withdrawn all the orders issued by CEO and ZEO Anantnag for unauthorised clubbing of schools in their respective jurisdictions.

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