State schools

1,500 public schools closed during Covid years, says Assn | Bangalore News

BENGALURU: Around 1,500 small private schools have closed in Karnataka over the Covid years, claims the Recognized Unaided Private Schools Association (RUPSA). The association says enrollment plummeted after schools remained closed during the pandemic.
“While the number of private schools was around 20,536 in 2020-21, it fell to around 19,000 in 2021-22. This is the data we pulled from the student results tracking system run by the government,” said Lokesh T, president of RUPSA.However, a DPI official said the scene looked promising this year with new applications for school start-ups.
“With the Covid, registrations have dropped. Government policies have made it impossible for schools to collect fees from existing students, thus forcing schools to stop paying teachers and non-teaching staff. Moreover, in the past two years, strict rules have come into force for the management of schools, including infrastructure standards such as fire safety rules, conversion of land for educational purposes, among others. All of this has added to the woes of schools already reeling from the pandemic,” Lokesh added.
Although the Department of Public Instruction has not confirmed this, a senior official said the data cited by the association may not be reliable. “The claim of the associations is not validated by us. This year, things are picking up. We received new applications to open schools. There were 127 applications to start grades 9 and 10, of which 26 were approved,” said Vishal R, Commissioner of Public Instruction.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh told the assembly earlier in March that 966 unsubsidized private schools had closed during that period. This does not take into account the 287 government schools and the 138 government-subsidized schools which also had no enrollment or were closed.
Nagaraj Y, who owned two schools in Kolar – Shantiniketan Schools – said he closed both due to declining enrolment. “Schools had LKG classes at grade 5. There were around 40 children in 2019; in 2021, the numbers were in the single digits. The children had been transferred to public schools. So we decided to close. Each school had 6 teachers and they ended up unemployed,” he said.
Nagaraj, who has since taken over other businesses, says he’s not sure if he wants to reopen schools. “Also, the department changes the rules from time to time. Fire safety regulations, building standards, etc. are difficult to respect,” he added.
A common complaint from private schools was that there was no government support, which left them dry.