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Closed Schools, Open Questions | 1089 habitats in J&K deprived of primary school access

We don’t need more schools, we’re 6% ahead of national average: Project Director Samagra Shiksha J&K
03:14 AM Feb 03, 2024 IST | Syed Rizwan Geelani
closed schools  open questions   1089 habitats in j k deprived of primary school access
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Srinagar, Feb 2: The youth in various habitations across Jammu and Kashmir do not have access to school education from primary to higher secondary level, exposing the educational gaps at various levels.

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The revelation came to the fore recently when the Department of School Education and Literacy (DSEL) convened a meeting to analyse the budget of Jammu and Kashmir released in the last five years.

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While taking a review of the Gross Access Ratio (GAR) it was revealed that a staggering 3.83 percent of habitations, totalling 1089 areas across Jammu and Kashmir lack access to primary schools within 1 km, according to state norms.

Not only the primary level, but the gaps were found at upper primary, secondary, and higher secondary levels as well.

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As per the official figures around 3.25 percent comprising 923 habitations do not have access to upper primary schools within 3 km while 1.32 percent of the population comprising 81 villages do not have access to secondary level schools within 5 km and 2.02 percent of the population comprising 124 habitations do not have access to schools at higher secondary level within 7 km.

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The concerns have been raised at a time when the School Education Department (SED) ordered rationalisation of schools and merged around 3840 primary and 401 upper primary schools across the region over the past several years.

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The schools were merged as these schools either had zero or meagre enrollment of students across J&K.

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Recently, all the merged schools were officially closed and the names of the merged institutions were removed from the UDISE portal as well.

Meanwhile, owing to the gaps in terms of access to schools, the DSEL has instructed SED J&K to submit habitation details following the rationalisation of schools ordered during previous years.

However, the lack of access to schools in various habitations has raised questions about the effective implementation of the erstwhile SSA scheme under which the Centre approved the establishment of over 10,000 schools across J&K, ensuring access to education for every child.

“On one hand the authorities closed down primary and upper primary schools citing that schools were established in excess, on the other hand, it has been revealed that various habitations are yet to have access to education. This raises serious concern over the implementation of centrally-sponsored schemes in J&K,” an official said wishing not to be named.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, Project Director Samagra Shiksha, J&K, Deep Raj said, “There is no habitation where there isn’t a school. Ideally, a primary school should be within a 1 km radius, but it is also possible that it is available within a 1.5 km radius, which doesn't mean that there is no school available.”

He said that the rate of access to education in J&K is 98.5 percent, whereas the country’s average rate is 92 percent.

“This means we are six percent ahead in terms of access to education at the national level. Currently, we don’t need more schools,” he said.

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