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Zulfikar undoes clubbing of schools ordered by Naeem

In 2015, the then education minister Naeem Akhtar ordered clubbing of schools with minimal roll to ensure optimum use of teachers and their rationalization.Three years later, the present education minister Choudhary Zulfkar Ali has started to undo Akhtar’s initiative.

Director school education Kashmir, G N Itoo, said the education minister in a meeting convened in Jammu recently directed to review the decision and de-club the schools wherever required.

“He said wherever there is a requirement to de-club, that should be done,” the official informed.

Following the decision, chief education officer (CEO) Doda on Thursday issued an order instructed all the zonal education officers (ZEOs) of the district to de-club all the schools falling in their respective zones and “make them functional at the place where such schools were opened.”

“The staff posted in these schools are under strict directions to report to their original place of posting and enhance the enrollment within a week,” the order reads.

However, the order has come as a surprise as the policy for merging of educational institutions with meager enrollment was framed to ensure quality education and streamline the distribution of teachers as per the enrollment of students.

“We are surprised to hear about the decision of present education minister to de-club the schools which were merged by the former education minister and produced good results,” a top official said, wishing not to be named.

“No order has been issued by the administrative department but as a policy matter CEOs have been instructed to go for de-clubbing of schools,” he said.

It may be recalled that the decision for merger of schools was taken after at least 124 schools were found with zero student population which was revealed by the then education minister Naeem Akther in the Legislative Council in 2015. Besides, most of the educational institutions had disproportionate student-teacher ratio against the recommended 1:30 ratio.

During the process, as many as 2406 schools including 1834 schools working from rented accommodations were clubbed in Kashmir while as over 1490 schools were clubbed in Jammu region.

The merger of over 2400 schools in Kashmir gave a surplus staff of 3553 teachers in these co-located schools.

“The rationalization of schools was a big reform as schools were consolidated on basis of student enrollment and services of teachers were also utilized judiciously at most of the places. But de-clubbing will again create zero enrollment schools in many areas,” the official said.

In the process of rationalization, two teachers were posted in a primary school having enrollment of 20 students while as three teachers were posted in a school where roll was above 20 and less than 31.

In case of middle schools, five teachers were posted for 70 students and one head teacher.

Education minister Choudhary Zulfkar Ali was not available for his comments as his phone was continuously switched off.

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