Bhubaneswar, Jan 23 (PTI) The NHRC has issued a notice to the Odisha Government and the Centre based on a media report that a large number of government-run primary and upper primary schools have been closed in the state due to less number of students.

The report has raised the issue of Right to Education of the young students, mostly belonging to poor families of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and other backward communities, NHRC said in a release today.

The notice, issued through the state chief secretary, has given the state Government given eight weeks to respond with a point wise reply to the issues raised in the media report in a newspaper on January 21.

It appears that government schools are lacking basic amenities, do not have adequate number of teachers and opening of private schools cannot be a solution for the shortcomings being faced by the students and the parents in the government schools, the NHRC observed.

There is an extreme need for thorough study of the scenario by taking into confidence all the stakeholders to build a healthy environment of education at primary and upper primary level to tackle the menace of dropouts, it said.

Drawing attention to its suo motu cognizance of a similar media report on December 21, 2017 about the decision of Maharashtra Government closing Zilla Parishad schools, the NHRC said without proper education at primary level, the nation cannot think of well educated youth in future.

The issue needs to be addressed timely by the state and the union government and accordingly, the Commission has issued a notice to the union HRD ministry through its secretary for a response in the matter in 8 weeks, it said.

Reportedly in 2016-17 as many as 828 government primary and upper primary schools were shut down in Odisha for having less than 10 students each.

In 2014, a total 195 schools in the state with less than five students were served show cause notices by the government, it said.

According to the media report, in the past year the highest number of 124 government schools were closed in Rayagada district. This was followed by Kandhamal where 101 schools were closed down.

The idea was to merge these erstwhile schools with a primary school located within a kilometer distance or an upper primary school within 3 kilometers, for which the State would provide transport facilities, the release said.

The report further claimed that another 268 such schools have been identified for closure in Rayagada district which are awaiting only formal approval, it said.

On the point of merging the schools, it was stated that there are no such schools under consideration in Rayagada district. Also in the case of merger all the students from the erstwhile schools will not be able to join the new schools due to geographical restraints, it said.

Reportedly, the general grievance of parents is that teachers are not attending to schools regularly. Even Anganwadi workers are also not working sincerely in spite of several complaints made with the authorities.

In most of the schools, students of different standards sit in a single room and the schools lack basic amenities, it said.

Even residential schools don t have adequate number of teachers due to which large number of students prefer private schools.

According to the media report, another matter of concern is the growing number of private schools in the state.

Unlike, the government schools, the private schools send vehicles for the children and have better logistics than the government schools, it added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.