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‘Over-crowded’ Classrooms, Girls Dropping Out: Delhi Govt Comes Under Fire Over Merger of Schools

Ronak Chhabra |
On Thursday, activists alleged that owing to a “shortage of schools” in the city, over 80,000 children have been denied admission to government schools in the recent past; the merger-closure policy has also led to a “steep decline” in the classroom teaching-learning process, according to them.
 In a press conference called by JFME, activists said that the AAP government is jeopardising the future of lakhs of students. Image clicked by Ronak Chhabra

In a press conference called by JFME, activists said that the AAP government is jeopardising the future of lakhs of students. Image clicked by Ronak Chhabra

New Delhi: The continuing merger of state-run schools in the national capital in the name of rationalisation has come under flak for leading to “severe over-crowding” in classrooms and a surge in cases of student dropout, with educationists, teachers, and parents alike questioning the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – led Delhi government’s much-touted education model on Thursday.

In a press conference called by Joint Forum for Movement on Education (JFME), activists said that the merger or closure of government schools, which is carried out by the AAP government in tune with the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, is jeopardising the future of lakhs of students.

The activists alleged that owing to the “shortage of schools” in the city, over 80,000 children have been denied admission to government schools in the recent past. The policy of merging schools has also led to a “steep decline” in the classroom teaching-learning process, according to them.

In the national capital, the merger of schools is often carried out according to the policy laid out by the Directorate of Education (DoE), which is aimed at converting evening-shift schools into morning-shift ones. Besides, over the years, the decision to merge a school is also driven by the objective to achieve optimum utilisation of available resources.

Resultantly, a total of 48 schools run by the Delhi government were merged in the last seven years, the DoE informed in a reply earlier in June this year to the RTI filed by The Times of India. Out of these, most, 32 have been ordered to be merged in the academic year 2022-23.

On Thursday, academicians, while addressing the press conference, however, said that the decision of the AAP government to merge government schools is creating ripples among parents and teachers.

In many schools, the paucity of teachers and classrooms [has] led to severe overcrowding with more than 90 students crowding into each classroom in the heat,” said the JFME in a press statement, adding that this is the result of carrying out mergers of schools.

Among those affected the most by the said policy decision include children belonging to marginalised sections, who are enrolled in these schools, the statement added.


It is saddening to note that while the AAP government has pitched its ‘education model’ to impress the middle classes, the same government is ordering mergers of schools, which is nothing but an anti-poor decision,” said Prof. Anita Rampal, former Dean of Faculty of Education, Delhi University, on Thursday.

To be sure, recent mergers of certain schools in the city have caught more attention than others, for they have been met with resistance from parents as well as students who are apprehensive that, in light of inadequate infrastructural facilities, the said decision will only lead to the poor learning environment for the many.

For example, earlier this month, hundreds of students of one Sarvodaya (Co-Ed) Senior Secondary School, situated in South West Delhi’s Netaji Nagar, staged a protest after they were informed about the proposed merger of their school that might lead the students to shift to another campus. Likewise, a decision, taken in May this year, to merge Shaheed Amir Chand Government Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, situated on Shamnath Marg near Kashmere Gate, with Civil Lines-located SBBM Government Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, also hasn’t gone down well with both, the students and parents.

Both the schools, which earlier used to enrol over 2,000 students each, are now being functioning from a single campus which does not have enough infrastructure capacity to cater to the total strength of over 4,000 students,” lamented Dharam Pal, a member of the School Management Committee of Shaheed Amir Chand school, on Thursday.

The building of the said government school was identified in August last year to set up a ‘School of Specialised Excellence for Sports’ under the Delhi Sports University. “However, the cost of it is now being paid by our children,” said Pal, reiterating concerns relating to overcrowding in the new classrooms.

With several schools in the city currently being run on double shifts, with the morning being for girls and the evening for boys, the merger of these schools, upon which most of them are converted to co-ed, has also prompted many parents to withdraw admission of their daughters from government schools altogether due to cases of “indiscipline” in the new classrooms, multiple speakers at the press conference highlighted on Thursday.


Furthermore, academicians also underlined that the AAP government’s policy on merging-closing government schools is in line with the Central government’s NEP 2020 – it has been flayed for being “exclusionary” – which has vouched for “consolidation of schools” citing the prevalence of small size of school establishments in the country.

These policies are ill-informed and are framed with a corrupt intention,” said P S Sharda, a Supreme Court advocate who specialises in matters relating to child rights, while addressing the media.

Sharda Dixit, former school principal, who currently is the joint secretary of the Delhi chapter of All India Save Education Committee, said that at a time when most of the government schools, in the post-pandemic period, saw an influx of students from private schools, the AAP government must focus on creating new buildings, instead of continuing with its merger policy.

What’s more, “in certain rural areas within Delhi the schools are being closed down and the land is handed over to private builders for profit,” Dixit alleged.

Incidentally, the inadequacy of proper school infrastructure in Delhi was also brought to light through a petition filed earlier this month by social jurist Ashok Agarwal, who reportedly approached the Delhi High Court against the short duration of instructional hours, owing to multiple shifts, in numerous government schools in North East Delhi.

According to the petition, in these schools, the average student spends only a cumulative 2 to 3 hours in school which violates the Right to Education Act, of 2009.

Issuing notice, the Delhi HC has directed the AAP government to file an answer within three weeks. The matter is now scheduled for the next hearing on December 7.

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