The Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre (IRAC) has taken strong note of a report in Mid-day titled “Amid fresh concerns, Maharashtra gets set to shut 3,073 Schools”, dated 13th December 2021, available at https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/amid-fresh-concernsmaharashtra-gets-set-to-shut-3-073-schools-23204830, and has moved the NHRC over the issue.
The state government has decided to shut down more than 3,073 schools with fewer than 10 students which will affect over 16,000 students, mostly tribals. The decision of the state government will lead to more drop outs among the tribals because they will have to travel long distances to attend a neighbourhood school.
IRAC expressed concern that permanently shutting down of schools is not and cannot be the solution to improving quality of education. The decision to shut down over 3000 schools is a gross violation of the Right to Education Act which requires the authorities to establish schools within the neighbourhood of 3 kms. It is a well-documented fact that lack of schools in the neighbourhood leads to higher rate of drop outs. The very fact that the tribals and other marginalised communities shall be primarily affected by the decision requires reconsideration of the decision by the state government.
In view of the negative impact that the government’s decision can have on the rights of tribal children, IRAC sought the immediate intervention of the National Human Rights Commission and demanded withdrawal of the decision to shut down 3,073 schools, and submit a report to the NHRC within two weeks; and sought details on the district-wise data of drop out children from 6 to 14 years, and separate data for such tribal children across the state.