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State Announces Upgrade to Elementary Schooling System

The Maharashtra government approved the conversion of 60,000 elementary schools into secondary schools in order to match the state’s educational system with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and reduce dropouts following basic education.

In a government resolution (GR) released on Friday, the state approved the addition of upper-primary (classes 6-8) and secondary (classes 9-10) sections to 41,966 government schools that now only provide lower primary (classes 1-4/5). The 17,788 schools that now educate to the seventh or eighth grade can be extended to the tenth grade.

The GR clears that the local self-governing bodies, including district administrations and municipal corporations overseeing these educational institutions, have been tasked with implementing the expansion as per their respective requirements. Notably, priority will be given to schools boasting a minimum enrolment of 30 students in lower primary grades and 35 students in upper primary classes. Furthermore, the directive mandates the incorporation of pre-primary sections (nurseries and kindergartens) in all schools.

The main objective behind this initiative is to standardize the state’s vast educational network, comprising about 1.1 lakh schools, currently characterized by many class combinations. Presently, most of the 66,000 schools operated by the state provide education only up to the eighth grade, marking the pinnacle of free and compulsory schooling.

The move is motivated by the imperative to align with the NEP’s vision of a consolidated school structure encompassing all grades from pre-primary to class 12 within a unified framework. However, the state’s existing schooling framework, structured around the 5+3+2 model (five years of lower primary, three years of upper primary, and two years of secondary), poses a formidable challenge in transitioning to the new 5+3+3+4 structure envisaged by the NEP.

Furthermore, by integrating secondary sections into government schools, the state aims to address the concerning trend of dropouts following elementary education. Data reveals that a significant number of students, approximately 65,000 out of over 19 lakh, discontinue their education after completing the eighth grade. This phenomenon is attributed to the prevalent practice of students transitioning to private schools for further education after completing their elementary schooling in government institutions.

Citing financial constraints, the state has refrained from creating additional teaching positions for the newly added classes, directing local self-governing bodies to leverage the existing pool of teachers.

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(Source: HT)

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