In an order issued on August 26, the Uttar Pradesh government has also asked all wardens to ensure that students who have not been enrolled in new classes this year, be enrolled in upper primary schools (6 to 8), who will then be taught through e-pathshalas.
“Due to the closure of all Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, the UP government has decided to provide temporary admissions for the academic session 2020-21 to students in local upper primary schools,” the order by the Basic Shiksha Adhikari, Lucknow said.
However, the notice does not mention the reason for ‘closure’ of KGBVs.
Another order issued by Vijay Kiran Anand, Director General of School Education and state project director of Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, has asked all basic shiksha adhikaris (BSAs) to admit KGBV students to the next class in local upper primary schools and commence classes through e-pathshala.
“Students cannot come to their schools to take admissions in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. These students need to be enrolled for next classes. Post their enrolment, we will begin digital classes for them,” Anand said in the order.
These exclusively residential schools for girls were established in 2004 to ensure access to quality education to the girls belonging predominantly to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minority communities in educationally backward blocks. The KGBVs have classes from 6 to 12.
According to the website of KGBV, the scheme under which the schools were established was subsequently enlarged and extended further to cover the Educationally Backward Blocks that have rural female literacy below 30 per cent.
In this scheme, there is a provision for residential facility and other academic support to be provided to the girl students enrolled mainly from the dropped-out section in the areas concerned. The programme aimed at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education is jointly funded by the Centre and the state in 60:40 sharing basis.
However, the government’s decision to shift the students to upper primary school is being opposed by students and their parents.
Several Dalit rights organisations have also expressed fears about the bleak future of their children after closing of the residential girls’ schools and alleged that this decision is an act of prejudice by the government against their community.
The imposition of the countrywide lockdown had forced the thousands of the KGBV students, who had gone to their homes after the completion of final exams, to remain at home. Close to 75,000 students are enrolled in 746 KGBVs.
Satish Kumar, joint secretary of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Employees Welfare Association, said, “They are shifting students to upper primary school so that they can show the government that no educational activities are taking place in KGBV during the pandemic. This decision is likely to be followed by layoffs and pay-cuts. This is the agenda behind enrolling students in upper primary school.”
He said over 6,000 teachers are associated with KGBVs across the state, and over 50 per cent teachers may lose their jobs after this shift. Kumar further said that there had been no directive regarding the resumption of hostel function since their closure in March following lockdown guidelines.