The Gujarat High Court noted on Tuesday that the measures taken by state authorities to improve school infrastructure are not only satisfactory but also almost comparable to those of private institutions. The court of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Judge Ashutosh Shastri made the observation based on an affidavit from the government detailing school buildings and infrastructure facilities such as playgrounds and toilets in a suo motu PIL.
The court suo motu learned of a news article about the collapse of a school building in Vagalvada village in Chhota Udepur district, the collapse of parts of a school building in Pratappura in Mahisagar district and some students being injured in the incident.
The bank noted that the attachment to the affidavit disclosed that infrastructure facilities such as drinking water, toilets and playgrounds are provided at the district/taluka level, including buildings for teaching classes. The court further said that the Solicitor General has assured that any infrastructure deficiencies would be remedied if they were brought to the attention of Vidya Sameeksha Kendra, Samagra Siksha Kendra or Gujarat Council of School Education.
“We see no good reason why the said statement should not be accepted, especially against the background of the statistics presented to this court (related to infrastructure) which clearly reveal the steps taken by the state authorities, which are not only satisfactory , but also almost on par with other private schools,” the bank said. The government has informed the court that a pucca RCC building has been constructed in Vagalvada and that necessary instructions have been given regarding the school in Pratappura.
The court noted that it is “not only satisfied with the steps taken by the state, but also expresses its appreciation for the immediate steps taken to point out such deficiencies.” According to the affidavit submitted by the additional secretary, there are a total of 32,319 government schools, with 47,07,846 students.
While nearly all schools have toilets and drinking water, at least 6,443 do not have playgrounds, it said. The court noted in its order that the state has made “strenuous efforts” to increase the net school enrollment rate (NER), which stood at 75.05 percent in 2002-03, to 99.25 percent in 2012-13. and is now close to reaching 100 percent.
The percentage of school leavers from grades 1 to 8, which was around 18.79 percent in 2004-05, has fallen to 3.07 percent in 2021, according to the government’s affidavit. Girls’ dropout rate fell by 1.29 percent for grades 1 to 5 and 3.46 percent for grades 6 to 8 in 2021, and the student-to-class ratio (SCR) is 26:1 in 2021, from 38:1 in 2001-02, with 1.37 lakh classrooms built during this period, the affidavit stated.
According to government data, about 1.96 lakh teachers and headmasters have been recruited in the past 20 years, improving the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) to 28:1 in 2021, from 40:1 in 2001-02.
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