Dozens of children and their parents living in the rural interiors of Malappuram district heaved a sigh of relief when the Kerala High Court stayed the closure of six multi-grade learning centres (MGLC). However, their future will depend on further course of government action.
Several parents had approached the court with the help of M. Ummer, former MLA, seeking a reprieve from sudden closure of the MGLCs at Kalanthiruthi, Melmuri, Arimanal, Tharikulam, Arimangalam, and Manjalpara.
The parents had protested against the government decision to wind up the MGLCs, popularly known as ‘single-teacher schools’ or ‘alternative schools’ or ‘badal schools’.
Uncertainties existed at several MGLCs across the State, as the government ordered the closure 300-plus such schools, mostly in remote tribal and coastal areas, where single teachers managed everything.
Many such teachers were making a living by walking a long distance to the schools often through difficult terrains every day. There were uncertainties about the future of the students and their teachers in spite of the government putting forth alternative plans.
MGLCs were set up in 1997 to ensure universal primary education under the District Primary Education Project (DPEP), a much-celebrated education scheme that failed and was dumped by the State. The government started its move to wind up MGLCs by converting them into primary schools after the enactment of the Right to Education Act in 2012.