Gujarat schools almost on par with pvt ones: HC – The Indian Express

The steps taken by the Gujarat government to improve school infrastructure “are not only satisfactory” but are “also almost on par with any other private schools”, said the Gujarat High Court Tuesday closing a suo motu public interest litigation intitiated last year.
The division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice AJ Shastri expressed satisfaction with the state’s actions and stated that the court’s apprehension now “stands allayed”.
The HC initiated the PIL following a report by The Indian Express on the collapse of a government primary school at Vaghalwada in Chhota Udepur that led to students attending classes at the home of their mid-day meal cook.
Additional secretary of the education department, Bhavesh Erda, submitted in an affidavit that in almost all of the 32,319 government schools across the state with 47,07,846 students “facilities towards the school building, drinking water, toilet for boys and girls are in place”.
However, 6,443 schools do not have a playground for which the state government submitted that it is “trying to take care of these schools gradually by finding some alternative”. “As such, it would be open for the state to take such steps for making available playgrounds for these students. The state being alive to the problems addressed by the citizens and same being attended to as evidenced from the affidavit of the additional secretary,” it said.
The court further took note of the advocate general Kamal Trivedi’s assurance that any shortfall in the infrastructure would be addressed if brought to the notice of Vidya Sameeksha Kendra, Samagra Siksha Kendra or Gujarat Council of School Education. The court recorded that it does not “see any good ground as to why the said statement should not be accepted, particularly in the background of the statistics placed before the court clearly disclosing the steps taken by the state authorities which are not only satisfactory which is also almost on par with any other private schools.”
The court took note of the photos on the Vaghalwada school and noted “pucca RCC building construction of the school has been put up with other infrastructures and thus, the apprehension raised by this court stands allayed.”
State Education Minister Jitu Vaghani welcomed the HC’s observations. “It is a matter of pride for the education department that the HC has expressed satisfaction over the performance of the government in the field of education by making comprehensive observations” he said in an official statement, adding that it “gives a new impetus to the education sector.”
The court recorded that the Gujarat government has put up “strenuous efforts” by virtue of which several parameters such as net enrollment ratio, dropout ratio, pupil-to-teacher ratio, student-to-classroom ratio, etc have all improved.
The court noted that the net enrollment rate in schools, which was 75.05 per cent in the year 2002-03, has risen to 99.25 per cent in 2012-13 and is now close to achieving 100 per cent. The school dropout ratio across the state from class 1-8, which was in the tune of 18.79 per cent in 2004-05, has come down to 3.07 per cent in 2021. “The state government through its various initiatives and schemes promoted for encouraging girls to attend schools seems to have significantly helped in reducing dropout of girls to 1.29 per cent in grades 1-5 and 3.46 per cent in grades 6-8 by the year 2021. In fact, the student-to-classroom ratio has been effectively addressed by the state as 1.37 lakh classrooms have been built from 2001-2021 which resulted in SER to 26:1 in 2021 from 38:1 in 2001-02,” the court noted.
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